Telemedicine: Rep. Kelly Introduces Bill to Evaluate Telehealth Usage During COVID-19 Pandemic

Congresswoman Robin Kelly introduces bill on Telehealth and Telemedicine.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly. (SUPPLIED)

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, introduced the Evaluating Disparities and Outcomes of Telehealth (EDOT) During the COVID-19 Emergency Act of 2021 to develop data-driven policies for telehealth following the COVID-19 public health emergency to improve the future of telemedicine.

“Many patients and providers have experienced the benefits of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the relaxed telehealth regulations from CMS,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “Telehealth has the potential to help equalize healthcare access for underserved populations. However, we need data to understand utilization, cost, fraud, privacy and how to serve those left behind by the digital divide. Crucial time is ticking away, and to capitalize on the benefits of telehealth technology, we must act now.”

The Evaluating Disparities and Outcomes of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Emergency Act of 2021 would:

  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study the impact of telehealth on utilization, cost, fraud, privacy, and equitable access within the Medicare and Medicaid programs during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Require that the study include a summary of telehealth utilization data, such as (1) the number of telehealth visits (audio-only and video visits) and in-person visits, disaggregated by service type (e.g. mental health, primary care);  (2) any changes in utilization compared to prior to the public health emergency; (3) demographic characteristics of beneficiaries who utilized telehealth services; (4) geographic data on both the patients utilizing telehealth services and the corresponding providers offering telehealth services
  • Direct the Medicare report to include a description of expenditures and savings, and any instances of fraud identified by the HHS Secretary acting through the Office of the Inspector General.

The bill is endorsed by: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work; American Association on Health and Disability; American Kidney Fund; American Network of Community Options and Resources; American Physical Therapy Association; Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC); American Psychiatric Association; Association of Academic Psychiatrists; Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness Brain Injury Association of America; Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, and Action; Federation of State Medical Boards; IGA Nephropathy Foundation of America; Lakeshore Foundation; National Association for Rural Mental Health; National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Disability Directors; National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN); National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD); OCHIN, Postpartum Support International; Residential Eating Disorders Consortium (REDC); Travere Therapeutics; and Wounded Warrior Project.

Full bill text is available here.