By Consumers for Quality Care, on May 11, 2022
At a time when telehealth coverage expansion remains in peril, a majority of doctors are still offering telehealth appointments to consumers, according to a new study conducted by the American Medical Association and reported by Healthcare IT News.
While usage is down from its peak during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 85 percent of doctors report continuing to use telehealth to treat consumers. Doctors spoke of the benefits telehealth provides to their practice, including increased flexibility for themselves and providing better care.
Doctors, however, are concerned that as pandemic-era programs end, they may not get reimbursed for telehealth visits in the same way they do for in-patient visits. The COVID-19 public health emergency has allowed for the temporary expansion of telehealth coverage, but without action from Congress, access to telehealth may run out.
Earlier this year, Congress did extend temporary flexibilities for telehealth care, but advocates are encouraging lawmakers to find a more permanent solution to address this need. “We are hopeful for a longer extension in the future or a permanent solution to provide more certainty to patients and providers that telehealth won’t disappear, but greatly appreciate this initial extension. We will continue to work with Congress and HHS on any additional authorities that may be needed,” said Kyle Zebley, vice president of public policy at the American Telemedicine Association.
Telehealth has allowed consumers to access the health care they need, especially in underserved and rural communities. If Congress fails to act, telehealth coverage will abruptly end for many who rely on these services. CQC urges lawmakers to take swift action to ensure all consumers can continue to use telehealth following the end of the public health emergency.