Bipartisan Thompson bill would ensure access to local telehealth services

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would build upon previously enacted provisions in the COVID-19 relief packages and provide more senior citizens, regardless of their geographic location, with access to healthcare services.

Rep. Thompson on July 16 sponsored the Helping Ensure Access to Local TeleHealth (HEALTH) Act of 2021, H.R. 4437, with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) to codify Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services provided by community health centers and rural health clinics, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 4437 also would allow such facilities to continue to utilize audio-only telehealth visits for patients who do not have access to high-speed broadband.

“The HEALTH Act cuts red tape and permanently allows community health centers and rural health clinics to furnish telehealth services to their patients,” Rep. Thompson said last week.

The National Association of Community Health Centers, the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association, and Keystone Rural Health Consortia Inc. endorsed the measure.

“As a former healthcare professional, who spent nearly 30 years serving rural populations, I am amazed at how telehealth services make life simpler for rural and underserved communities — and in particular older Americans,” said Rep. Thompson. “Continued use and promotion of these services will improve health equity by increasing access to care for our most vulnerable.”