(WASHINGTON, DC) April 29, 2021– Today, the Connected Health Initiative released a statement from executive director Morgan Reed on the introduction of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act:
“We are pleased to support the CONNECT for Health Act as a significant step toward removing outdated barriers to Medicare’s coverage of live audio and video healthcare services for vulnerable populations. This legislation would completely remove the geographic restrictions within the portion of the statutory bar on coverage. It would also allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to completely waive restrictions on Medicare’s coverage decisions with respect to telehealth services and add ‘the home of an individual’ and, at HHS’ discretion, ‘any site at which the patient is located’ as originating sites.
“These forward-looking reforms would enable Medicare beneficiaries to meaningfully access virtual care and come very close to our recommendation to adopt ‘any site at which the patient is located’ as a statutory originating site. Telehealth services can help address inequities by providing a means to access care regardless of where the patient lives or is located when seeking healthcare services. The current statute’s narrow allowance for telehealth coverage only for certain rural patients with access to a physician’s office arbitrarily deems those patients worthy of coverage while leaving urban and suburban populations uncovered. With smartphone ownership and use approximately the same at about 80 percent for Black, white, and Latinx populations, excluding all patients from coverage except those in a narrow set of locations exacerbates inequitable access to care.
“Now is the time for Congress to enact permanent and fundamental reform to ensure virtual care services available during the pandemic are not snatched away or incrementally eroded with partial, piecemeal provisions. The CONNECT for Health Act would substantially achieve this purpose, and we urge Congress to enact it right away.”
About CHI: The Connected Health Initiative (CHI) is the nation’s leading consortium of health technology innovators, policy experts and patient advocates. Together, we advance solutions that enable providers and patients to achieve better health outcomes, reduce health costs, and foster the adoption of transformative technology throughout the healthcare system.