Democratic senator proposes telehealth expansion

Democratic senator proposes telehealth expansion
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats Democrats say they're committed to reducing emissions in Biden plan MORE (D-Ore.) on Monday released a proposal to expand telehealth services on a permanent basis.

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.


Congress boosted funding for and streamlined access to telehealth for Medicare recipients for the duration of the public health emergency tied to the pandemic.

Wyden's proposal would make those changes permanent, giving Medicare beneficiaries the option to use telehealth for commonplace medical visits and mental health services.

“Out of necessity during this pandemic, doctors, patients and public health officials have come to recognize that telehealth works,” Wyden said. “Telehealth allows seniors, especially those with multiple chronic conditions, to stay on top of their medical care without taking unnecessary risks or the inconvenience of leaving home. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a trial by fire, but the experience to date has made clear that the health care system is ready for broader access to telehealth on a permanent basis."