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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 McConnellBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal McConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill 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 face big headaches on Biden's T spending plan Democrats introduce bill to give hotels targeted relief Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan Democrats, GOP agree on one thing: They're skeptical of a deal 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.”