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A bill introduced in the House — called the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act — would ensure that telehealth regulations implemented through the CARES Act in response to the pandemic remain permanent. If passed, the proposed legislation will allow the HHS to waive geographical limitations for Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth or remote patient monitoring services, as well as establish permanent telehealth coverage at Rural Health Clinics (RHC).
Despite a recent decline in telehealth utility, usage is still higher in the US than it was pre-pandemic — and we don’t think this will deter lawmakers from implementing regulations that will guarantee increased telehealth access for Medicare patients. Researchers note that telehealth visits have started to decline since their initial peak in April — but usage levels still remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, per the CommonWealth Fund.
In particular, we’ve seen seniors gravitate toward telehealth in response to the CMS’ expanded coverage of the tech amid the pandemic: Seattle-based primary care telehealth provider 98point6 reports that it’s seen a 66% increase in patients over the age of 50 since Q3 2019, for instance. And since some seniors are becoming more acclimated to telehealth, we think eliminating geographic restrictions to access should go a long way toward providing better care for Medicare beneficiaries — particularly those in rural areas who may lack access to adequate care services.
And given that the senior population has a higher prevalence of costly chronic conditions than the general population, ensuring that barriers to telehealth remain knocked down would allow for accessible and efficient preventative care that could help providers curb some of the associated costs of chronic disease care: The US spends $1.65 trillion annually on treatment for chronic illness.
For telehealth adoption to keep besting pre-pandemic levels, we think state governments will need to introduce legislation that addresses challenges like connectivity and physician reimbursements:
While telehealth is a viable way to make care more accessible, providers have encountered an array of tech hurdles that may dissuade users from tapping virtual care for the long haul. For example, a slew …read more
Source:: Business Insider