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Schatz Provisions To Extend Expanded Telehealth Services Included In Appropriations Bill

Schatz Calls For Permanent Expansion of Telehealth Services, Coverage

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) secured the inclusion of provisions to the FY22 government funding bill that will temporarily extend access to expanded telehealth services. The provisions, which are from the Schatz-authored Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, allow Medicare beneficiaries in all areas of the country to utilize telehealth services in their homes and allow more types of health care providers to provide telehealth.

“The last two years have proven that telehealth works. It has made it easier and safer for people to see their doctors and stay healthy,” said Senator Schatz. “While this extension is helpful, these changes should be made permanent. It’s time to pass the CONNECT for Health Act.”

Expanded access of telehealth services were first made available in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but were limited to the emergency period. The 151-day extension would begin at the end of the public health emergency and contains provisions from Senator Schatz’s CONNECT for Health Act, including:

  • Removing geographic restrictions on telehealth services and allowing Medicare beneficiaries to access virtual care from their homes;
  • Allowing health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services;
  • A Report to Congress to learn more about telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The five-month telehealth extension follows a January letter led by Senator Schatz, along with a bipartisan and bicameral group of 44 lawmakers, that called on congressional leaders to extend expanded coverage of telehealth services in this must-pass legislation.

Schatz’s bipartisan and bicameral CONNECT for Health Act was first introduced in 2016. The bill, which is cosponsored by 61 senators, is considered the most comprehensive telehealth legislation in Congress.