House committee passes bipartisan telehealth bill offered by Kelly, Smith as part of package

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on May 8 voted unanimously to pass a legislative package that includes a bipartisan bill offered by U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) to expand the list of eligible practitioners who may furnish telehealth services.

“I’m incredibly pleased to see this critical legislation advance out of our committee,” Rep. Kelly said. “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.” 

H.R. 8151, which Rep. Kelly sponsored on April 29 with original cosponsors Rep. Smith and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), would permanently expand the eligible list of practitioners to include qualified physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists.

“Telehealth innovation is a game-changing solution for rural health care challenges,” said Rep. Smith. “I’m grateful we were able to advance this common-sense measure out of the Ways and Means Committee providing Americans with greater access to care. I will continue working with my colleagues to enact telehealth solutions benefitting both providers and patients.”

Rep. Kelly added that Americans, especially those living in 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,” he said. “This bill makes great strides towards delivering modern solutions to our constituents’ future health care needs.”

H.R. 8151 passed the committee as part of the bipartisan Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act, H.R. 8261, introduced on May 7 by Rep. Thompson and bill sponsor U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ).

If enacted, H.R. 8261 would preserve Medicare patients’ access to telehealth for two years and Hospital-at-Home services for five years, and retain Medicare programs that sustain rural and low-volume hospitals, among other provisions. 

The larger bill still must pass the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee before advancing to the full chamber for action.