Sustaining Access to Telehealth Services

August 17, 2020 By: Bob Atlas, President & CEO

“I can’t imagine going back.” - CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

We too, cannot imagine making patients forfeit the expanded access to telehealth that has become vital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 led so many to stay home, hospitals and doctors rushed to embrace the long-available but underused tool of telehealth—delivering health care remotely to keep both patients and providers safe.

Emergency federal and state waivers freed our hospitals and health systems to ramp up telehealth quickly. Telehealth visits at one Maryland health system skyrocketed from eight patients a day to more than 1,200.

MHA successfully advocated on your behalf to expand telehealth during the public health emergency. Now, we will work to make that permanent and codify requirements that insurers pay properly for telehealth. Legislation is needed.

MHA’s Legislative & Regulatory Policy Council approved Sustaining Access to Telehealth Services as a field priority in the 2021 session of the General Assembly. The council set four priorities for an MHA bill:

  • Modify definition of telehealth to include audio-only
  • Approve a patient’s location as an originating site
  • Expand coverage for remote patient monitoring
  • Secure reimbursement parity for telehealth services

Leaders of the General Assembly support MHA’s bill proposal. They can see telehealth broadens access to care, improves patient outcomes and satisfaction, and helps chip away at health inequities.

As a public official of another stripe said some years ago, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Tragic as this pandemic is, we intend to make sure the positive developments from COVID-19 produce lasting change.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO