WASHINGTON, D.C. February 8, 2022 –The American College of Physicians (ACP) says that extending regulatory flexibilities for telehealth that have been put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, as included in several recent bipartisan bills, is a promising step in care delivery for physicians and their patients. The Telehealth Extension and Evaluation Act, introduced yesterday by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Todd Young (R-IN), and The Telehealth Extension Act of 2021, introduced in December by Representatives Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Devin Nunes (R-CA), would both require Medicare to extend coverage for a wider range of telehealth services under broader geographic areas beyond the end of the official Public Health Emergency (PHE) that has been in place during the pandemic. ACP applauds the efforts of these lawmakers in working to extend and expand these vital services.
“We have seen a dramatic uptick in the amount of patient care being performed by telehealth over the past two years. This type of care can help to better meet the needs of our patients. That is why ACP has advocated for extending telehealth flexibilities beyond the end of the PHE,” said George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, MACP, FIDSA, president, ACP.
The Telehealth Extension and Evaluation Act would extend flexibilities for telehealth under Medicare for two years past the end of the declared PHE. The Telehealth Extension Act of 2021 calls for permanently lifting geographic and site-based restrictions that previously limited the availability of telehealth services under Medicare. It also provides a two-year extension in expanding the types of services that are permitted by telehealth. ACP has repeatedly advocated for extending these flexibilities and others, telling both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress that some of the restrictions should be relaxed permanently.
“Expanding the role of telehealth as a method of health care delivery has the potential to enhance patient-physician collaboration, improve health outcomes, increase access to care, access to members of a patient’s health care team, and reduce medical costs,” continued Dr. Abraham. “Over the course of the pandemic internal medicine specialists and other physicians have provided care, uninterrupted, to their patients with the expanded use of telehealth. ACP believes that the opportunities provided by the increased use of telehealth will continue to be an important piece of health care delivery.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 161,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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