Jul 20 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), along with Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), today introduced the bipartisan KEEP Telehealth Options Act, which would require the federal government to study the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and report on how to improve those services.
“Expanded telehealth services have allowed millions of Americans to access the medical care they need during this pandemic, especially those in rural communities. As a strong advocate for telehealth, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, common-sense legislation. It would provide valuable information that is needed to determine how we can improve these services to save lives,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.
“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need and demand for reliable and accessible telehealth services. Unfortunately, there are still too many communities across the nation – including in Nevada – where telehealth is difficult to access. This bipartisan legislation will help expand and improve telehealth services, and increase the number of Nevadans that will have the opportunity to utilize this technology to protect their health and well-being,” said Senator Rosen.
This legislation would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study and produce a public report on the actions taken to expand access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic under the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs. Additionally, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to Congress on the efficiencies, management, successes and failures of the expansion of telehealth services during the PHE. These studies could then be used by Congress to support and inform long-term flexibilities for telehealth.
Senator Fischer has long advocated for expanding Nebraskans’ telehealth services. After writing to Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr in 2018 outlining the need for better rural broadband to support telehealth, the FCC announced a new telehealth initiative called “Connected Care Pilot Program” to increase Nebraskans’ access to life-saving technology.
A version of this legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) and Cindy Axne (D-Iowa).
Full text of the bill is available here.