Reps. Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., filed Legislation this week to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have more access to telehealth. After the COVID-19 public health emergency, HR 3447, also known as the “Permanency for Audio-Only Telehealth Act,” would allow Medicare to reimburse audio-only telehealth services.
Smith said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic required the U.S. healthcare system to innovate and embrace every viable method of healthcare delivery. For patients in rural areas back home in Missouri, none have been more beneficial than the expansion of audio-only telehealth.”
However, Legislation warned that that flexibility would expire after the public health emergency, indicating a strong need for long-term policy. HR 3447 would remove regional and originating location limits for Medicare patients to receive audio-only telemedicine, in addition to covering audio-only telehealth.
Given the absence of inexpensive and stable broadband throughout much of the country, health equality advocates have frequently emphasized the necessity for audio-only telehealth coverage. The government of President Joe Biden has made some attempts to alleviate the lack of connectivity. However, other politicians have submitted similar proposals that would cover virtual care without a video component in the meanwhile.This year, members of Congress introduced Legislation that would allow physicians to give audio-only services to Medicare Advantage patients, which America’s Health Insurance Plans praised.