On April 29, leaders from the Senate Telehealth Working Group and Congressional Telehealth Caucus introduced the updated Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021 for the 117th Congress. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would make significant progress toward permanently expanding telehealth coverage and promote higher quality of care, increased and equitable access to care and provide better value to the Medicare program.
First introduced in 2016, the CONNECT for Health Act has gone through numerous updates over the years and will be crucial to advancing the conversation around telehealth permanence on Capitol Hill.
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2021 removes many of the burdensome restrictions under Medicare that have been waived by Congress and the Administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, and it builds upon the previous version in numerous ways.
Of note, the bill permanently removes geographic restrictions for telehealth services, adds a patient’s home as an eligible originating site and expands the Secretary’s waiver authority of 1834(m) restrictions.
It further includes provisions to ensure program integrity by providing resources to the HHS Office of Inspector General for telehealth oversight activities, and it supports greater provider and beneficiary education tools on utilizing telehealth services.
“HIMSS is once again proud to support the CONNECT for Health Act, and we applaud the leaders of the Senate Telehealth Working Group and Congressional Telehealth Caucus for reintroducing this critical piece of legislation,” said Tom Leary, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, HIMSS. “Over the past year, we have witnessed widespread adoption of telehealth that ensured equitable access to healthcare for all Americans and provided safe and high-quality care to patients whenever and wherever they needed it. We now call on Congress to make permanent the flexibilities that have supported the use of evidence-based connected care to improve healthcare quality, access and value.”
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2021 is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 50 senators, and was supported by over 150 organizations, including key leaders across the healthcare community.
As in past Congresses, HIMSS and the PCHAlliance provided insight and support to the lead sponsors as they updated the 2021 version of the CONNECT for Health Act. HIMSS and PCHAlliance are committed to advancing efforts made by this legislation to ensure expanded and equitable access to telehealth services.
The HIMSS policy team works closely with the U.S. Congress, federal decision makers, state legislatures and governments, and other organizations to recommend policy, and legislative and regulatory solutions to improve health through information and technology.