eHI Summary: House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing


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eHI Summary: House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing

March 5, 2021

On March 2nd, the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing entitled The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care

Key takeaways from the hearing include:

  • There was disagreement amongst Subcommittee Members on the approach and timeline for adopting permanent telehealth reimbursement policies.
    - Some Members, including Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo, believe now is the time to act to permanently remove Medicare telehealth reimbursement barriers.
    - Others, including Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie and Full Committee Chair Frank Pallone, would like more data to ensure proper guardrails are in place to protect against fraud, abuse, and overutilization and ensure equity.
    - For the most part, witnesses agreed that they do not support arbitrary restrictions – like requiring a patient to be seen in-person prior to a telehealth visit – as fraud, abuse, or overutilization guardrails.
  • In addition to reimbursement barriers, many witnesses highlighted licensure reform as a critical need in removing barriers to care for both providers and patients. Laws that do not allow clinicians to practice across state lines are major barriers in access to care.
  • Over the COVID-19 public health emergency period, telehealth has been a lifeline for many providers and patients.
    - Telehealth has seen a decrease in missed visits and “no shows” because it tends to be more convenient for patients.
    - Telehealth has the potential to lower cost of care because it can provide more timely access to care.
  • Other key themes from witnesses and Subcommittee Members were payment parity and reimbursement for audio-only services.