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Gianforte Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Telehealth Services for Seniors

June 25, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) today introduced legislation to continue the telehealth policies implemented by the Trump Administration and through the CARES Act, while advancing access to emerging technology for seniors especially in rural areas.

“Many Montanans live in frontier and rural areas where access to doctors, particularly specialists, is a big challenge. Using technology to connect patients with doctors, telehealth tears down barriers, making it easier to see a doctor. This bill will keep the barriers down for good, ensuring Montanans have greater access to high-quality, more affordable care,” Gianforte said.

The measure introduced today builds upon Gianforte’s efforts to expand telehealth services as a means of increasing access to care and reducing health care costs. In February, he introduced bipartisan legislation to expand telehealth services across the country with Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak in March, Gianforte successfully advocated expanding telehealth services to rural health centers and community health centers.

The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act will allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the originating site and geographical limitations beyond the public health emergency period that was specified in the CARES Act. Before this waiver went into effect, Medicare beneficiaries who wanted to utilize telehealth services could only do so at a designated “originating site” and only in the event of a physician shortage.
 
The bill will make permanent the telehealth coverage at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics (RHC). This will give rural providers the ability to serve patients remotely while being properly compensated for their work.
 
Finally, the bill removes restrictions that limit health care providers’ ability to provide access to smart devices and innovative digital technology to their patients. Allowing Medicare providers to remotely monitor and track their patient’s health will improve quality of life while reducing costly trips to the emergency room.  
 
Gianforte introduced the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act with Wyoming Congresswoman and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney as well as Reps. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

Following the bill’s introduction, the Montana Hospital Association provided its support.

“The ability of Montana’s hospitals to serve the healthcare needs of its patients, while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, was made possible through the waiving of unnecessary telehealth regulation. Access to this critically needed healthcare services was made possible through the expanded use of telemedicine. Legislation proposed by Congressman Gianforte will ensure this expanded access to care will continue,” said Rich Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association.

The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act also has the support of the Connected Health Initiative (CHI), who’s steering committee consists of the American Medical Association, Apple, Bose Corporation, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambia Health Solutions, Dogtown Media, George Washington University Hospital, Intel Corporation, Kaia Health, Microsoft, Novo Nordisk, The Omega Concern, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Podimetrics, Rimidi, Roche, United Health Group, the University of California-Davis, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Telehealth, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth.