Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and more than a third of the U.S. Senate see the success of telehealth during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
So much so that the senators favor expanding aspects of it, which was implemented only for COVID-19, beyond the pandemic.
The virus’ law — CONNECT for Health Act — allowed Medicare beneficiaries to use telehealth services and increased the availability of the services provided in the health care industry.
Senators argue that patients came to rely on telehealth services, and according to Murkowski’s press release, their services wouldn’t be interrupted at the end of the pandemic with an extension.
Extending the period for services also would allow health care providers to increasingly invest in telehealth as a long-term opportunity.
This would allow patients who cannot get to services, or at least not easily, to continue to consult with health care providers from their homes.
It also allows health care facilities that patients prefer — for whatever reason — not to visit during the pandemic and perhaps later to continue providing services and prevent financial losses.
At times it’s best to meet a provider in a clinic or hospital, but other times it’s easier or preferred for a patient to handle an appointment via video conferencing.
Both should be available to Medicare patients.
The telehealth provisions in the CONNECT act should be made permanent.