Bipartisan bill introduced by Balderson, Hinson would expand telehealth access

U.S. Reps. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and Ashley Hinson (R-IA) on Feb. 21 unveiled a bipartisan bill that aims to help expand and improve access to telehealth services across the nation.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues to advance this healthcare innovation, which greatly benefits rural communities and children,” said Rep. Balderson on Tuesday when he sponsored the Knowing the Efficiency and Efficacy of Permanent (KEEP) Telehealth Options Act of 2023, H.R. 1110, with three original cosponsors, including Rep. Hinson and U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV).

“Better access to quality healthcare services via telehealth has been a game-changer for Ohio’s rural communities,” Rep. Balderson said. “Telehealth is helping to better connect patients and providers by reducing the need for long-distance travel for routine in-person care and consultations.”

If enacted, H.R. 1110 would direct the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission to conduct studies and report to Congress on actions taken to expand access to telehealth services under the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance programs during the COVID-19 emergency, according to the congressional record bill summary.

The reports required under H.R. 1110 would include the expansion of telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak, the uptake of those services by patients across the country, and recommendations for enhancing the quality of and access to these services, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

The bill also would ask each entity to make recommendations for potential improvement and expansion, as well as approaches to address and prevent fraudulent activity, says the summary, noting that such data will help Congress legislate a permanent expansion of telehealth.

“A silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was that common-sense telehealth options were more readily available,” said Rep. Hinson. “I’m proud to co-lead the bipartisan KEEP Telehealth Options Act to preserve access to critical telehealth services and break down barriers to care in rural communities. 

“This is an important step toward ensuring that those in rural areas have the same access to care that those in urban areas do, and I look forward to continued, bipartisan work on this issue,” the congresswoman added.

The bill is supported by the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association, the Physical Therapy Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, and OhioHealth, among others.