Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) issued the following statement in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announcement of a permanent expansion of telehealth services in their annual Physician Fee Schedule rule.
“This commitment by CMS to telehealth will ensure vital services for many vulnerable Americans. This is a huge step forward in access to care for those in need of group psychotherapy, home visits, and even care planning services. As a long-time advocate of telehealth services across Minnesota, including vital mental health services, this action will help Americans across the country benefit from these innovations," said Emmer.
"Telehealth is the future of health care and a practical necessity during this time. We must begin to integrate it when appropriate in order to serve everyone where they are. Minnesota is both an expansive state that will greatly benefit from telehealth, and a leader in developing medical breakthroughs that deliver timely and quality care. Health care access must be expanded through the use of telehealth, and I applaud CMS for doing their part to ensure those in need get the care they require,” Emmer concluded.
In May, Congressman Emmer wrote a letter urging Congressional leadership to consider extending behavioral telehealth services in any upcoming COVID-19 response packages for a reasonable time following the COVID-19 emergency to assess which of the services should be continued permanently. Read the letter here.
In August, Congressman Emmer also joined a letter with 49 of his colleagues to CMS Administrator Seema Verma encouraging permanent expansion of telehealth services. Read the letter here.
Telehealth is the provision of long-distance health care through electronic platforms such as video chats. It has proven to be an extremely successful approach in ensuring that patients are receiving mental health and addiction care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, CMS expanded certain behavioral telehealth flexibilities, and ultimately increased access to these essential services.
At the beginning of the public health emergency for COVID-19, CMS added 144 telehealth services covered by Medicare through the end of the public health emergency. In the final rule, CMS added more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list that will continue to be covered beyond the public health emergency. CMS has also a commissioned study of its telehealth flexibilities provided during the COVID-19 public health emergency to determine new opportunities for services where telehealth can be further used.