HIMSS members and key stakeholders across the healthcare community are sending messages directly to Capitol Hill to urge Members of Congress to cosponsor the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act (H.R. 7663), which would ensure Medicare beneficiaries may continue to access care through telehealth after the current public health crisis has passed.
HIMSS is engaging with their membership and chapter advocates to send messages through the Legislative Action Center, a grassroots advocacy tool that allows HIMSS members to interact with their federal legislators, state legislators and federal agencies as necessary. HIMSS is also working with a coalition of organizations to share the Legislative Action Center campaign urging Members of Congress to support H.R. 7663 as widely as possible to increase the impact.
In April 2020, 43 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were using telehealth, up from less than 1 percent just two months prior in February, as people stayed home and self-quarantined to limit exposure for frontline healthcare professionals and free up resources to help patients with COVID-19.
The increase in telehealth use was made possible because Congress passed legislation in March to temporarily give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to waive Medicare restrictions on telehealth during the public health emergency. But the legislation only gives the HHS secretary that waiver authority through the end of the public health emergency. As soon as the public health emergency is declared over, all of these restrictions return unless Congress takes swift action.
HIMSS continues to support the comprehensive Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, and HIMSS and several other organizations worked with the House offices that introduced the CONNECT for Health Act to develop the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020, which would build on the temporary changes enacted in response to COVID-19.
This bipartisan bill is a negotiated effort to try to build on what has worked during the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of telehealth utilization and to protect telehealth access to Medicare beneficiaries once the public health emergency ends. HIMSS is working to gather support for the bill in the House of Representatives.
Help protect telehealth access for seniors. Urge your representatives to cosponsor H.R. 7663.