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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 McConnellWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives 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 SchatzDemocrats blast Biden climate adviser over infrastructure remarks Parliamentarian changes Senate calculus for Biden agenda Senate climate advocates start digging in on infrastructure goals MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US Bipartisan bill proposes to add billion in restaurant relief funds 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.”