Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Call for Telehealth Funding in Relief Package

August 10, 2020 by Reece Nations

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.” 

In The News

Health

Voting

Health

SBA Chief Says Ensuring Equity Critical to Success of COVID Relief Program
Business
SBA Chief Says Ensuring Equity Critical to Success of COVID Relief Program
June 22, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — While much good came from the COVID relief funds doled out by the Small Business Administration as the pandemic ran its course time has shown that certain businesses -- particularly those owned by women and minorities -- went underserved in the earlier aid rounds.... Read More

DOD Advised to Provide Congress With More Info On PFAS Costs
Defense
DOD Advised to Provide Congress With More Info On PFAS Costs
June 22, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Despite being in the early phases of an investigation into PFAS contamination at nearly 700 U.S. military installations, the Department of Defense says the future environment clean-up of these facilities will cost at least $2.1 billion and likely much more. That number has not... Read More

Watchdog: Nursing Home Deaths Up 32% in 2020 Amid Pandemic
Health
Watchdog: Nursing Home Deaths Up 32% in 2020 Amid Pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.  The report from... Read More

Chicago Mayor Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis
Cities
Chicago Mayor Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis
June 21, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared racism a public health crisis in Chicago this week, pointing to new research from the Chicago Department of Public Health showing that racism is the primary reason for a 9.2-year life expectancy gap between Black and non-Black people living in the... Read More

COVID Pandemic Accelerated Declining Birth Rates World Wide
In The News
COVID Pandemic Accelerated Declining Birth Rates World Wide
June 21, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated a long-standing trend in declining birth rates across the globe and could have long-lasting consequences, particularly for women, according to a recent panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. “The decision of whether to have... Read More

American Powered Air-Purifying Respirators Set New Standard
Health
American Powered Air-Purifying Respirators Set New Standard
June 18, 2021
by Reece Nations

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that the nation’s manufacturing capabilities were ill-prepared to respond to the urgent needs of the medical community. As the pandemic’s scope progressed, so did China’s chokehold on supplying countries with personal protective equipment and other front-line... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top