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Carter introduces permanent telehealth for seniors bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Greg Steube (R-FL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ), and Joe Morelle (D-NY) today introduced the Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024 to permanently extend telehealth flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries.

This bill will ensure permanent access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries and extends these flexibilities to federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. By increasing telehealth access and providing certainty about its future, more patients, particularly seniors and those in rural areas, will be able to access timely, high-quality care.

“Telehealth is a vital part of our health care system, and we must ensure that it is available to patients who need it. By permanently extending telehealth flexibilities for Medicare patients, we are making health care more accessible for seniors, regardless of their physical location. As a pharmacist, one of my top priorities has been increasing the accessibility and quality of health care; this bill does both, in a bipartisan manner, and paves the way for more patients and providers to use this technology,”
said Rep. Carter.

“Telehealth has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergence and eventual adoption of these technologies is a supplementation - not a replacement to in-person care. Many of my constituents in Florida value both in-person care as well as the advantage of telehealth services. Legislation like the Telehealth Modernization Act will protect access to these technologies for Americans, especially our seniors,” 
said Rep. Steube.

“The pandemic showed us just how important access to telehealth services are, especially for helping our seniors get the care they need,” 
said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “While we’ve made great strides in broadening the availability of telehealth services, we know that there’s more work to be done. I’m proud to join Rep. Carter in introducing the Telehealth Modernization Act this Congress – bipartisan legislation that would increase access to telehealth services for seniors on Medicare no matter where they live.”

“Telehealth proved extremely beneficial during the pandemic and should remain a permanent fixture in the healthcare industry,” 
said Miller-Meeks. “The Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024 ensures that seniors and rural patients who may not have internet connectivity can receive the care they need through audio-only telehealth services, in addition to allowing health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services. As we continue to utilize medical and technological breakthroughs, it is critical that we ensure increased access to telehealth services and quality care.”

“It is our duty to ensure that our seniors, especially those in rural areas, have access to the healthcare services they deserve. In this day and age, we operate beyond the barriers of geographic restrictions, and our healthcare system should reflect such. Remote care has become an essential development in recent years and this bill is necessary in our efforts to modernize health care and ensure no one gets left behind,”
said Congressman Van Drew.

“Telehealth services are critical to ensuring everyone has access to affordable, high-quality healthcare—especially for the most vulnerable in our community—and expanding them has long been a priority of mine,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan group of colleagues in supporting the Telehealth Modernization Act to give seniors easier ways to get the care they need and deserve. I look forward to continuing to work with my partners in Congress and organizations in my community to make care more accessible for our families.”

The bill boasts support from: American Telemedicine Association/ATA Action, Consumer Technology Association, Health Innovation Alliance, Alliance for Connected Care, The Partnership to Advance Virtual Care, HIMSS, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Physicians, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Rural Health Association, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, Federation of American Hospitals, American Heart Association, National Organization for Rare Disorders, The Alliance for Aging Research, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, Society of General Internal Medicine, Endocrine Society, American Society of Hematology, AOTA, American Physical Therapy Association, and Hemophilia of Georgia.

“As we prepare for the Telehealth ‘Super Bowl,’ we must take a comprehensive approach to ensuring telehealth flexibilities become permanent. An important step towards clearing the path for continued access to quality healthcare for Medicare recipients is the introduction of the Telehealth Modernization Act. To Representative Carter and the original bipartisan cosponsors of this legislation, Reps. Blunt-Rochester, Miller-Meeks, Steube, Sewell, Van Drew, and Morelle, thank you for carrying this important bill forward and your ongoing support for virtual care services,”
said Kyle Zebley, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and Executive Director, ATA Action.

"Permanently expanding telehealth flexibilities is essential for continuity of patient care, especially in the field of surgery where specialists are not always locally available,"
said Jennifer Romano, MD, MS, President of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS). "Telehealth permits patients to receive consultations and other care without incurring travel costs, using paid time off from work, finding childcare, and other barriers that many cannot afford. The STS strongly supports the Telehealth Modernization Act so patients can continue to receive timely and efficient care, regardless of their geographical location."

“This timely legislation would permanently extend Medicare telehealth coverage regardless of where the patient is located or how they access telehealth services. One lesson from COVID-19 is that telehealth technologies allow physicians to increase continuity of care, extend access beyond normal clinic hours, and help overcome clinician shortages, especially in rural and other underserved populations.”
said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH. “Patients and physicians are grateful that Reps. Carter, Blunt Rochester, Steube, Sewell, Miller-Meeks, Van Drew, and Morelle are looking out for them by introducing this bill.”

"The Telehealth Modernization Act is a vital step toward ensuring that over 31.5 million Americans who rely on Community Health Centers can continue to access high-quality, low-cost, integrated primary care and behavioral health services, regardless of where they live or how they connect,”
said Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “As a physician who worked at a health center, I have witnessed the power and potential of telehealth to transform health outcomes for rural and underserved populations. I urge Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation and make essential telehealth flexibilities permanent.”

“The Telehealth Modernization Act will permanently extend many of the critical telehealth flexibilities that hospitals and health systems have used to change they way they are able to deliver care and increase access for patients. This legislation will ensure that patients continue to receive convenient, high-quality virtual care and will result in broader investments to further transform care delivery. The AHA commends Rep. Carter, Rep. Blunt Rochester, and this bipartisan coalition of lawmakers for leading this important effort to protect patient access and avoid a telehealth cliff,”
said Lisa Kidder Hrobsky, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Political Affairs, American Hospital Association.

Read the full bill text here.