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Experts Weigh in on Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Rules and Policies

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Congress and CMS are being inundated with requests to make permanent telehealth guidelines enacted to expand coverage during the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a rundown of what they're requesting.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pushed telehealth and mHealth to center stage as healthcare providers of all sizes look to provide care on virtual platforms. But the emergency – and the legislative and policy measures enacted to deal with it – won’t last forever.

So what happens to telehealth then? What does this impending “new normal” hold for connected health?

With telehealth adoption at record levels and both providers and patients calling for continued coverage, federal and state governments are under pressure to make those emergency measures permanent. Congress is under particular pressure to pass laws expanding telehealth coverage, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has signaled a willingness to review and likely revise its guidelines for Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

This Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is conducting a hearing on telehealth lessons learned during the pandemic. The committee is scheduled to hear from Joseph Kvedar, president of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and a digital health expert with Boston’s Partners HealthCare Network; Karen S. Rheuban, director of the Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth at the University of Virginia and a past ATA president; Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, one of the first payers in the nation to make telehealth coverage permanent; and Sanjeev Arora, founder and director of the Project ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

In addition, 29 Senators sent a letter to Congressional leadership this week asking that telehealth provisions in the CONNECT for Health Act and included in recent COVID-19 emergency measures be made permanent.

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