November 11, 2020 – In response to the results of the 2020 presidential election with America choosing former Vice President Joe Biden as its 46th president, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued a statement calling for policymakers to expand access to telehealth.
“Telehealth has been and will remain a bipartisan issue and the ATA will continue to work with the federal government to improve policies to expand access to telehealth,” said ATA CEO Ann Mond Johnson.
“As we move on from this election, now is the time for policymakers to act to ensure Americans continue to have access to virtual care when and where they need it, particularly to help solve for health disparities among rural and underserved communities,” Johnson continued.
Johnson noted that over the past four years, access to telehealth has improved.
“During the past four years, the current administration has made many positive changes to Medicare policy to support telehealth,” said Johnson. “We are very encouraged that President-elect Biden has been on the record in support of telehealth and its continued expansion, and we look forward to working with his administration and with Congress in 2021.”
According to ATA, federal and state health policy must be “technology, modality, and site-neutral” to effectively expand and leverage telehealth, digital health, and virtual care technologies.
On its website, the ATA outlines nine telehealth policy principles designed to serve as a guide for health policy makers. The principles include enhancing provider autonomy, expanding reimbursement to incentivize virtual care, expand “aging in place,” enabling healthcare delivery across state lines, and expanding access for at-risk and underserved populations.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has seen enormous growth made possible by numerous flexibilities out of CMS and HHS. An advance copy of the proposed 2021 Physician Fee Schedule released in August exhibits several changes to current Medicare coverage, including new opportunities for remote patient monitoring and nine new billing codes for connected health services.
On the same day as the proposed 2021 Physician Fee Schedule was released, President Trump signed an Executive Order to expand telehealth services in rural areas.
“The Executive Order signed by President Trump to expand telehealth services for Medicare populations and improve access to care in rural areas signals, loud and clear, the Administration’s continued support for telehealth and virtual care,” ATA’s Mond Johnson said of the executive order.
“We applaud the Administration, as well as telehealth champions in Congress for taking the necessary steps to ensure individuals receive the care they need during this national health emergency and indicating support for extending telehealth post-pandemic,” Mond Johnson continued.