Ensuring Access to Care

Ensuring Access

Issue: Support policies that preserve access to telehealth services, improve the integration of behavioral health care into primary care, and extend premium support and tax credits for enrollment in Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans.

Why is Action Needed

The federal government took important steps to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. ACP is grateful that Congress extended many flexibilities for the use of telehealth through the end of 2024, including the use of audio only telehealth and allowing telehealth services to be furnished in any geographic area and in any originating site setting, including the beneficiary’s home. However, we remain concerned that patients will lose access to these vital telehealth services if Congress fails to extend them by the end of this year.

Behavioral health has become a public health crisis in in the United States, as data from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. Many patients seek care for behavioral health through their primary care physician but unfortunately their access is limited as our health system does equip our physicians to provide for the significant amount of time and resources needed to deliver this type of care. Patients often confront a siloed health care system that fails to integrate behavioral health into the primary care setting.

Additionally, we are pleased that recent data shows record-breaking enrollment in ACA health plans with more than 20 million people signed up this year. This increase has been largely due to provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that increased federal subsidies to purchase plans as well as lowered premiums for all ACA plans. Unfortunately, these subsidies are set to expire in 2025 and should be extended to ensure affordable health coverage.

ACP Position

ACP supports the expanded role of telehealth as a method of health care delivery that may enhance patient–physician collaborations, improve health outcomes, and reduce medical costs. We support increased resources for physicians to adopt new models of care such as the Collaborative Care Model, to improve the integration of behavioral health care into primary care. We also strongly urge Congress to extend the federal subsidies and tax credits, set to expire in 2025, that support enrollment in the ACA. We advocate for the Administration and states to continue enrollment for all eligible for Medicaid or sign up uninsured in ACA health plans.

Call to Action

  • Support the CONNECT for Health Act of 2023, S.2016/H.R.4189, and the Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act, S. 1636/H.R. 3440, which facilitate access to care via telehealth.
  • Improve access to behavioral health care by supporting the Connecting our Medical Providers with Links to Expand Tailored and Effective (Complete) Care Act, S.1378/H.R. 5819.
  • Protect access to health insurance by extending ACA premium tax subsidies through the Health Care Affordability Act of 2023, H.R. 1692.