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House committee passes extension of federal telehealth flexibilities

May 23, 2024


On May 8, 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means unanimously passed legislation that would extend the current Medicare telehealth flexibilities through the end of 2026.

The Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act (H.R. 8261)—authored by California Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa) and David Schweikert (R-AZ). —would preserve all the important telehealth flexibilities initiated at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are set to expire on January 1, 2025. Specifically, the bill provides:

  • An extension of the exemption to the geographic and originating site restrictions so that urban, suburban and rural Medicare patients can receive telehealth services. It also allows Medicare patients to receive telehealth services inside the home, as well as at any other site where they can access a telecommunications system, rather than being forced to travel to an acceptable brick-and-mortar health care location.
  • A continued moratorium on the requirement for an in-person visit within 6 months of a Medicare beneficiary receiving the first telemental health service.
  • Authority to provide audio-only telehealth services, which helps patients who experience difficulty accessing video technology.

The bill also extends the Acute Hospital at Home Waiver flexibilities through 2029.

Other congressional committees with Medicare telehealth jurisdiction are also expected to pass their own short-term legislation to extend the current telehealth flexibilities. These bills will be negotiated into a single package before the end of the year. 

The California Medical Association and the American Medical Association will continue to advocate for a permanent extension of telehealth flexibilities through the CONNECT for Health Act (H.R. 4189/S. 2016) and the Telehealth Modernization Act (H.R. 7623/S. 3967), both of which enjoy broad bipartisan support. The CONNECT for Health Act was introduced by California Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Napa) and Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento).

 

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