House approves Kelly’s telehealth policy legislation

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) on Wednesday voted with the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation containing language identical to his bill to permanently expand the list of eligible practitioners who provide telehealth services to include qualified physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists.

“This bill makes great strides towards delivering modern solutions to our constituents’ future healthcare needs,” Rep. Kelly said.

The U.S. House voted 416-12 to approve the bipartisan Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act of 2021, H.R. 4040, which includes language from H.R. 8491, sponsored on July 26 by Rep. Kelly alongside two Republican original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA).

The larger H.R. 4040, introduced in June 2021 by U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), would make several telehealth flexibilities under Medicare permanent that were initially authorized during the public health emergency related to COVID-19, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“Americans across the country, especially rural areas, have seen the benefits of telehealth services following the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors now have the convenience of seeing their doctor from the comfort of their own home. Families with children have new flexibility to work around their busy lives,” said Rep. Kelly. “I am pleased to lead the expansion of these critical services to cover more practitioners who play a vital role in caring for our communities.”

Rep. Valadao pointed out that many of his constituents in the Central Valley often live miles from healthcare services or don’t have adequate transportation to seek medical care. “Expanding these critical telehealth services permanently to include more practitioners will make accessing health care easier for patients in rural areas,” he said. “I’m proud to lead on efforts to ensure these vital services are available for our rural communities even after the pandemic is over.”

The U.S. Senate on July 28 received the House-approved H.R. 4040 and referred it to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for consideration.