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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Phil Roe (1st Congressional District of Tennessee)

JOHNSON CITY, TENN. – Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA)  released the following statement after introducing the Health Care at Home Act (H.R. 6644), which will require group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage to provide coverage for services provided via telehealth if those services would be covered if provided in-person during the COVID-19 emergency:

“The COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything before seen by our country. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is doing everything it can to ensure providers are compensated during this uncertain time, many providers are struggling because elective procedures were eliminated. Congress can help these providers by ensuring ERISA health care plans cover all forms of telehealth visits as if they were in-office visits during the current health crisis. We must ensure our health care providers are able to survive this crisis, and this small coverage change would go a long way to ensure that survival,” said Rep. Roe.

“Even though COVID-19 is top of mind for everyone right now, people still need to be able to access the everyday health care and medical advice they need,” said Rep. Schrier. “Dr. Roe and I want to make sure that this is done as safely as possible for both patients and doctors. By requiring plans to cover telehealth visits the same way they cover in-person visits, patients can still see their doctors without risking unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. And doctor’s offices can keep their doors open, care for their patients, and ensure they are still there after the pandemic.”

AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., added, “The AMA supports this critical legislation to require ERISA plans to cover telemedicine services for the duration of this pandemic, in line with the guidance that Medicare already has issued to providers. We applaud Reps. Schrier, Roe, Morelle and Van Drew for their leadership in ensuring that patients have access to diagnoses and treatments despite the challenges to office appointments at this time.”

“Telemedicine, whether via phone or video, is a vital tool for ensuring access to care while limiting the spread of COVID-19 and all patients should have access to it, regardless of their insurance coverage. As a physician, Dr. Schrier knows firsthand that patient care delivered via telemedicine is just as valuable as visits in making sure patients get the care they need when they need it. We’re grateful to have a physician in our state’s congressional delegation to advocate for patients, and we’re hopeful that Congress will take action to effect payment parity across all insurance plans,” said Jennifer Hanscom, CEO of the Washington State Medical Association.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this bill as a needed, important way to help children and families connect with their pediatricians. While families take precautions to stay at home during this pandemic, pediatricians rely on telehealth to answer families’ questions, diagnose acute issues and offer important guidance. We applaud physicians and U.S. Representatives Schrier (D-Wash.) and Roe (R-Tenn.), for minimizing barriers to telehealth for families across the country,” said Sally Goza, M.D., FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics

Note: The Health Care at Home Act of 2020 will:

  • Ensure all medically necessary benefits in ERISA plans are covered via telehealth for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency;
  • Establish parity between telehealth and face to face visits, including audio visits;
  • Prohibit restrictions on which particular conditions can be managed remotely;
  • Ensure all cost sharing for COVID-19 related treatment can be waived

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