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Bipartisan senators call for making telehealth expansion permanent post-coronavirus

Bipartisan senators call for making telehealth expansion permanent post-coronavirus
© Greg Nash

A group of 30 senators from both sides of the aisle on Monday urged leadership to make permanent the expansion of telehealth services that has been undertaken during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (D-N.Y.) calls for provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act included in previous COVID-19 legislation be extended after the public health emergency is over.

“Americans have benefited significantly from this expansion of telehealth and have come to rely on its availability,” said the lawmakers led by Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Little known Senate referee to play major role on Biden relief plan Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes bill to lift rule putting major financial burden on USPS MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-Miss.). “Congress should expand access to telehealth services on a permanent basis so that telehealth remains an option for all Medicare beneficiaries both now and after the pandemic."

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Telehealth has grown in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic as a safer alternative to in-person visits.

The services help doctors work with patients diagnosed with COVID-19 without putting themselves at risk.

It also helps providers care for high-risk patients who might contract the disease if forced to leave their homes for medical visits.

Advocates say enhanced telehealth capabilities could result in improved service with lower fees even beyond the pandemic.

"Doing so would assure patients that their care will not be interrupted when the pandemic ends," the senators wrote. "It would also provide certainty to health care providers that the costs to prepare for and use telehealth would be a sound long-term investment.”