June 25, 2021

In This Issue
Fast Facts
Senators Agree on Bipartisan Infrastructure Package; No Healthcare Provisions Included
NAHU Submits Letter Supporting Legislation to Expand Telehealth
Ask Your Legislators to Put an End to the Observation-Status Loophole
State Spotlight: Colorado and Nevada Pass Watered-Down Public-Option Laws
Healthcare Happy Hour: Legislators Introduce Bills to Put an End to Medicare Observation-Status Loophole
HUPAC Roundup: HUPAC Announces Exciting Annual Convention Events
What We're Reading
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NAHU Submits Letter Supporting Legislation to Expand Telehealth

NAHU submitted a letter to the co-sponsors of S. 1988, the Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act, commending the bipartisan group for sponsoring legislation that would make the current pandemic-induced telehealth flexibilities, including audio-only telehealth appointments, permanent.

In our letter to Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), we stressed the importance of allowing rural areas greater access to telehealth services and thanked them for sponsoring this legislation. This bill would permanently waive the geographic restriction on telehealth care, allowing  Medicare patients to be treated from their homes when clinically appropriate, and permanently permit rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to serve as distant sites for telehealth services. S. 1988 would also lift the restrictions on "store and forward" technologies for telehealth (the transmission of a patient's medical information from the office of a physician to a provider at a different site without the patient being present). Most significantly, the Act would permit audio-only telehealth services after the public health emergency ends, a necessity for patients in rural areas who lack access to broadband services.

NAHU believes that access to telehealth is crucial, during the public health emergency and beyond. In April we submitted written testimony to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, where we provided recommendations on the importance of telehealth during the pandemic and aspects of telemedicine access that Congress should consider moving forward. Specifically, we mentioned telemedicine can increase access to care for consumers in underserved rural and urban areas and has the potential to lower healthcare costs in the short term for both consumers and providers, but that there are still significant barriers and inequities that exist within telemedicine that must be addressed. Additionally, NAHU signed on to a stakeholder letter to HHS and CMS requesting that the agencies to allow Medicare Advantage plans to cover both video-enabled and audio-only telehealth visits for beneficiaries.

Ask your senators to support S. 1988 now with our Operation Shout campaign!

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