Key takeaways from eVisit Chief Strategy Officer Juli Stover on the passage of H.R. 4040.
Yesterday the U.S. House passed a bill to expand telehealth services that were introduced in the early days of the pandemic. That’s certainly good news for eVisit’s customers and the communities they serve.
But I find it especially promising for another reason: the vote passed on a 416-12 vote.
Clearly, virtual and hybrid care is here to stay.
Why It Matters
For our forward-thinking clients and the healthtech companies that help them innovate, the pandemic only accelerated the adoption of telehealth—something many had longed for in the name of efficiency and patient satisfaction. But it also had to make good business sense.
By contrast, policymakers tend to act on issues only once there is significant support from their constituents. Here too, the pandemic amplified voters’ preferences for technology-enabled healthcare services.
What began as a necessity to slow the spread of COVID-19 has become so commonplace that Americans now expect convenient, secure, and easy-to-access technology to play a central role in their overall healthcare experience—a development that could not be more aligned to eVisit’s mission to simplify healthcare delivery to everyone, everywhere.
And policymakers are listening.
What the Bill Proposes
- Geographic and originating site flexibilities
- Expanded eligible practitioners
- FQHC (Federal Qualified Health Centers) and RHC (Rural Health Centers) telehealth coverage and reimbursement
- Delay of the in-person telemental health requirement
- Furnishment of audio-only telehealth
- Allowance of telehealth for face-to-face visits prior to hospice eligibility recertification
- Telehealth funding allocated from the Medicare Improvement Fund
If passed by the Senate and signed into law, these provisions would continue through the end of 2024—a prospect we expect will provide our clients with the certainty they need to further expand their virtual and hybrid care delivery strategy.
What Advocates Are Saying
As a top-level member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), eVisit has been following the development of this legislation with great interest.
In a statement issued last night, ATA Vice President of Public Policy Kyle Zebley said, “We cannot allow patients to lose access to telehealth post-pandemic, and this bill will provide stability through 2024, while giving Congress time to address how to make the policies permanent. We congratulate our longstanding policy champions in the House for their continued support and overwhelming acknowledgement that telehealth is an essential part of care delivery.”
I couldn’t agree more.
And I would add that it’s simply the right thing to do—a position shared by our many clients who got into healthcare with the express purpose of making a difference in people's lives.
By making the right choice the easy choice, the acceleration of technology-enabled healthcare delivery has tapped into behavioral economics on a scale not seen for many decades. Healthcare consumers who use the eVisit platform now have greater access to the providers who know them best—the very providers they have come to trust to keep themselves and their loved ones as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Never before have a few taps on a cell phone meant so much to the health of so many people. H.R. 4040 ensures this will continue through 2024.
As for support from the White House, a Statement of Administration Policy issued by the Executive Office of the President on July 26, states: “The Administration strongly supports H.R. 4040, the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act of 2022. This bill would build on the experience and best practices learned during the pandemic, and modernize our health care system to expand access to quality, affordable care, especially in rural and underserved communities.”
What You Can Do
While we celebrate this development, we also recognize the need for further policy advancement by our forward-thinking clients and organizations like the American Telemedicine Association. To learn how you can advocate for policies that help promote and protect the health of those you serve, please consider the benefits of joining the ATA by visiting their website.
In the meantime, please check out the recording of yesterday’s webinar, Avoid the Telehealth Cliff: Managing Risk in Virtual Care to learn more about the virtual care compliance issues that should be on your organization’s radar.