The American Telemedicine Association has applauded the inclusion of a two-year renewal for Medicare telehealth extensions that have been in place since the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared in 2020 in the bipartisan omnibus budget package from both chambers of Congress.
The ATA Action affiliate of the telehealth group also complimented lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill for including measures postponing the Medicare telemental health in-person mandate for two years in the bill.
According to Kyle Zebley, senior vice president for public policy at the American Telemedicine Association and executive director of ATA A, Congressional telehealth winners on both sides of the political spectrum arrived through for the American people and for ATA and ATA Action members, by reaching the plea for more surety around telehealth connectivity for the coming 2 years, while they continue to work with decision makers to make telehealth access a regular fixture of the healthcare delivery for the future.
The Acute Hospital Care at Home Program and the safe harbour to offer telemedicine in high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts are both extended by two years in the omnibus.
While the Ryan Haight in-person waiver for remote prescription of controlled substances is not similarly extended by the bill, it does direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue final regulations outlining the conditions under which a Special Authorization for Telemedicine may be issued and the process for applying for the registration.
Within the coming week, the omnibus package is anticipated to be approved by Congress and sent to President Biden for his signature.
For several months, as numerous bills with varied elements made their way through Congress, the American Telemedicine Association and ATA Action advocated for the extension of Medicare telehealth flexibilities past the PHE and through 2024.
Congress heard what they had to say. They are sincerely appreciative of their steadfast backing for telehealth, Zebley remarked. It’s time to quickly send the bill to the president for approval before the year is up. The hard work remains, as they persevere in pushing telehealth permanency and erecting a durable wall to the telehealth cliff, he added.