Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Call for Telehealth Funding in Relief Package

August 10, 2020 by Reece Nations
Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Call for Telehealth Funding in Relief Package

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program to be included in any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation.

The FCC established the program in April 2020 to better provide health care support as the health crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic intensified. In the final week of April alone, nearly 1.7 million fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries received telehealth services, according to HealthAffairs.

The roughly 13,000 weekly Medicare beneficiaries who received telehealth services before the pandemic pales by comparison. Medicare telehealth services provided by the program include therapeutic activities, acute nursing facility care and virtual check-ups.

In a letter addressed to congressional leaders, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., noted the surge in demand for telehealth services from both patients and providers since the pandemic began. Spanberger introduced a bill in July with support from bipartisan co-sponsors that would make a supplemental appropriation of funds for the FCC’s telehealth program.

“Local providers in our districts report experiences that are in line with the national trend,” the text of the letter read. “In Central Virginia, for instance, one safety net hospital reported an average increase in telehealth visits of over 7,000% between March and June 2020. Avera Health, located in South Dakota, averaged 1,000 virtual visits per day through the month of April 2020, which represented a quick ramp up of their telehealth services.”

Spanberger’s bill would allocate an additional $200 million in funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, equal to the amount initially approved by congress in the CARES Act. While 5,200 health care providers applied to engage in the telehealth program, the FCC could only afford to fund 500 of those applicants.

The lawmakers who joined Spanberger and Johnson in signing the letter were: Reps. Bryan Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; T.J. Cox, D-Calif.; James Baird, R-Ind.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Doris Matsui, D-Calif.; Ami Bera, D-Calif.; Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.; Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas; Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y.; Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; David Trone, D-Md.; Katie Porter, D-Calif.; Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.; and David Cicilline, D-R.I.

“Additionally, the benefits of telehealth, especially in long-term care facilities, are clear,” the lawmakers’ letter continued. “Telehealth reduces the spread of infection from outside asymptomatic carriers, reduces hospitalizations when the physician is unable to complete a face-to-face visit, and improves access to specialist visits without exposing the patient to infection.” 

A+
a-
  • Abigail Spanberger
  • bipartisan
  • Coronavirus
  • Dusty Johnson
  • FCC
  • Medicare
  • telehealth
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Health

    By Defining Sex, Some States Denying Transgender People Legal Recognition

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mack Allen, an 18-year-old high school senior from Kansas, braces for sideways glances, questioning looks and... Read More

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mack Allen, an 18-year-old high school senior from Kansas, braces for sideways glances, questioning looks and snide comments whenever he has to hand over his driver's license, which still identifies him as female. They've come from a police officer responding to a... Read More

    Facing Backlash Over IVF Ruling, Alabama Lawmakers Look for a Fix

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused treatment in... Read More

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused treatment in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law. Facing a wave of shock and anger... Read More

    February 26, 2024
    by Jesse Zucker
    Try Heat Therapy to Warm Up This Winter

    WASHINGTON —  As we near the end of February, have you gotten tired of being cold yet? While you wait... Read More

    WASHINGTON —  As we near the end of February, have you gotten tired of being cold yet? While you wait for spring, heat therapy may be just what you need to warm up. If you’ve ever been to a sauna or steam room at a spa... Read More

    February 26, 2024
    by Jesse Zucker
    Breaking Down the Plant-Based Diet

    WASHINGTON — Does the word “diet” have a negative connotation to you? It often gets attached to quick fixes or... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Does the word “diet” have a negative connotation to you? It often gets attached to quick fixes or unsustainable plans that promise to help you “detox” or lose weight. The popular “plant-based diet” may be the one exception. One interpretation simply means eating more... Read More

    February 22, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Study Finds More Than 40% of Americans Know Someone Who Died by Overdose

    SANTA MONICA. Calif. — More than 40% of Americans have known someone who died of a drug overdose, and about... Read More

    SANTA MONICA. Calif. — More than 40% of Americans have known someone who died of a drug overdose, and about one-third of those individuals say the death disrupted their lives, according to a new study by the Rand Corporation. Researchers with the nonprofit think tank and... Read More

    Silent Brain Changes Precede Alzheimer's. Researchers Have new Clues About Which Come First

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Alzheimer’s quietly ravages the brain long before symptoms appear and now scientists have new clues about the... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Alzheimer’s quietly ravages the brain long before symptoms appear and now scientists have new clues about the dominolike sequence of those changes — a potential window to one day intervene. A large study in China tracked middle-aged and older adults for 20 years,... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top