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Sen. Moran joins effort to make rural telehealth permanent

Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 3:40 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Jerry Moran has joined an effort to make rural and underserved telehealth permanent after COVID processes and restrictions have been lifted.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says he helped to introduce the Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in order to ensure that current flexibilities are permanent. He said the bipartisan legislation would ensure that rural and underserved community providers are able to continue offering telehealth services after the COVID-19 emergency ends. He said the services include the ability to offer audio-only telehealth appointments due to many rural residents not having reliable transportation or affordable access to broadband.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reiterated the effective and efficient access to care telehealth provides to patients, especially those in rural communities,” said Sen. Moran. “Even after the pandemic ends, our health care system should bolster telehealth services as a reliable option to serve patients and help expand health care options and availability for rural America.”

According to Sen. Moran, the Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act would allow payment parity for audio-only health services for eligible appointments, permanently waive the geographic restriction which allowed patients to be treated from home, permanently allow rural health clinics and centers to serve as distance sites for telehealth services, lift restrictions on “store and forward” technologies and allow Critical Access Hospitals to directly bill for telehealth services.

“The expansion of telehealth services during the pandemic, including especially audio-only telehealth, has allowed Granite Staters to access the care they need without traveling long distances and risking their health, while also helping health care providers easily connect with patients and earn additional income needed to keep their doors open – a win-win,” said Sen. Shaheen. “I’m pleased to introduce this commonsense legislation with Senator Manchin to permanently expand the telehealth services and ensure that Medicare beneficiaries in areas of New Hampshire that lack broadband can continue to access audio-only forms of telehealth services. It should not have taken a pandemic for Medicare to finally unlock the potential of telehealth services — and now we need to make sure that these vital telehealth services continue to be available to patients long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.”

Moran said the bill is supported by the Alliance for Connected Care; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; America’s Essential Hospitals; Americans for Prosperity; American Telemedicine Association; AMDA The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine; diaTribe Foundation; eHealth Initiative; Global Liver Institute; Hawai’i Parkinson Association; International Foundation for Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis (AiArthritis); LeadingAge; Medical Group Management Association (MGMA); National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs; National Rural Health Association; Patient & Provider Advocates for Telehealth; Progressive Policy Institute; Special Needs Plan Alliance.

“Even before the pandemic, access to telehealth was critical to helping Iowans in rural areas get the care they need,” said Sen. Ernst. “That’s why I prioritized working with Democrats and Republicans to expand access to these services during this difficult year. Now that we’ve seen its success, there’s no reason we shouldn’t make these changes permanent to continue supporting both our rural patients and hospitals.”

To read the full bill, click HERE.

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