The coronavirus pandemic has brought upon unprecedented challenges for all Americans. This is particularly true for our vulnerable senior populations who are most at risk for complications due to COVID-19, many of whom have continued to stay isolated away from loved ones.
I have long been an advocate for advancements in our healthcare, in particular, with technology like telemedicine. Over the course of this pandemic, we have seen substantial increases in the volume of individuals utilizing telemedicine, particularly for mental health visits and other healthcare related inquiries.
Recently, I introduced the bipartisan Safe Testing at Residence Telehealth (START) Act of 2020. This legislation will provide at-home testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory, flu-like illnesses. It will leverage advancements in technology and testing in order to better support our seniors from the safety of their home. Through this legislation, Americans can meet with their doctors without having to coordinate complicated transportation or heightened risk exposure. This expansion of healthcare is extremely important amidst a pandemic and impending flu season, where many are concerned about coming into contact with COVID-19.
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Family Foundation have found that U.S. adults ages 65 and older account for roughly 16 percent of the population, and 80 percent of COVID-19-related deaths. The Safe Testing at Residence Telehealth Act of 2020 would amend the Social Security Act by adding coverage and payment for Medicare beneficiaries to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved at-home tests.
I am hopeful that this legislation will be included in any future coronavirus relief Congress passes. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to continue our much-needed expansion of healthcare technology and look forward to continuing to work to protect our seniors and Americans most at risk.