AlediumHR, the leading telehealth recruiting firm in North America, urged Senate leadership Tuesday to extend Medicare telehealth flexibilities for a full two years after the end of the COVID-19 emergency. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions were waived when Medicare could reimburse for telehealth visits. According to the Health and Human Services Department, Medicare telehealth visits increased from 840000 in 2019 to 52.7 million between 2019 and 2020.
In a partnership with 375 healthcare and telehealth trade groups, health systems and other industry companies said in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that uncertainty around the continuation of telehealth flexibilities has started to affect innovation.
“The pandemic opened the door for the expansion of telehealth. It created a mechanism for people to access healthcare that they otherwise may not have had. Telehealth also provided relief to hospitals and other healthcare providers who were experiencing a crisis due to Covid. To now limit access through Medicare will not only cause issues with expanding the industry but put an extra burden on our elderly when it’s not necessary”, said Mike Maffei, Co-Founder & President of AlediumHR.
“The rural communities have been especially hit hard with the limited number of physicians, nurses, and licensed counselors. Telehealth provides a way to access healthcare practitioners who are readily available to assist, said Maffei.”
The U.S. House in August voted 416-12 to pass the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, legislation that would continue Medicare patient access to telehealth services, including audio-only services, through 2024 after the COVID-19 public health emergency.