Daines, Moran offer bipartisan Expanded Telehealth Access Act

Bipartisan legislation introduced on Nov. 4 by U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Steve Daines (R-MT) would make expanded access to telehealth services permanent.

“After the public health emergency ends, we need to ensure Montanans continue to have access to the telehealth services that they’ve come to rely on and are so important for maintaining the health of our communities and seniors,” Sen. Daines said.

The senator explained that to help reduce risks associated with visiting medical providers during the ongoing pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the types of healthcare providers who may receive reimbursement for telehealth services. 

If enacted, the Expanded Telehealth Access Act, S. 3193, which Sen. Daines sponsored with three original cosponsors, including Sen. Moran and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), would make permanent the CMS expansion of practitioners eligible for payment for telehealth services under the Medicare program for physical therapists, audiologists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists, according to the text of the bill.

“During the pandemic, we have seen telehealth services expand the options of care available to Kansans, especially those living in rural America,” said Sen. Moran. “As we continue to unlock the potential of telehealth, I’m pleased to introduce this sensible legislation to expand the list of eligible providers that can seek Medicare reimbursement for providing care to seniors.”

Sen. Daines noted that telehealth is transforming how Americans receive care.

“For many Montanans, the windshield time it takes to see a doctor can be a significant barrier to getting the health care they need,” said Sen. Daines. “Particularly in our rural communities, telehealth is no longer just an innovative option for accessing services, it has become a vital lifeline to care.”

The Senate bill is supported by the American Telehealth Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the eHealth Initiative and Foundation, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Inc., the Personal Connected Health Alliance, and the Alliance for Connected Care.

S. 3193 is companion legislation to the same-named H.R. 2168, which U.S. Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced in March. As of Nov. 9, H.R. 2168 has 57 cosponsors.