Your Virtual Care Partner.

POTUS Orders Permanent Telehealth Service Expansion

Interested in learning more about our Telehealth solutions? Click here.

Trump Orders Permanent Telehealth Service Expansion

Alicia Lasek, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

President Trump has issued an executive order that permanently expands telehealth services put in place during the pandemic. The move is part of a commitment to support Medicare beneficiaries, particularly in rural communities, the White House announced Monday. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is also supporting a permanent expansion, and has issued a proposed rule mirroring the White House’s order. But Congress will need to approve any telehealth coverage extensions that go beyond helping patients in rural areas. This includes coverage of some doctor visits without a qualifying in-person consultation and broadened access to physical, occupational and speech language pathology services, McKnight’s has reported.

Telehealth Extension

Meanwhile, telehealth use has exploded. From mid-March through early July, more than 10 million beneficiaries received telehealth services. That’s compared with 14,000 per week prior to the public health emergency, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

The increased popularity of remote healthcare services may be driven as much by pandemic-era patient anxiety as it is by the new coverage. About 43% of respondents to a recent survey by DocASAP, a patient access platform provider, said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting a healthcare provider in person until at least the fall. 

Yet despite all of the attention directed to telehealth use, many Medicare beneficiaries may still be unable to access it, according to new research. More than a quarter don’t have a computer with high-speed internet access or a smartphone with a wireless data plan, investigators found. The lack of digital connection was higher among adults aged 85 years and older, those with low socioeconomic status, and in communities of color, they reported.