Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02)
August 6, 2020
Washington, DC –This past week, Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02) cosponsored bipartisan legislation, the VA Telehealth Expansion Act, which would improve and expand telehealth services for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This bill aims to close some of the gaps in access to VA telehealth care, by allowing the VA to provide grants to outside partners creating and upgrading technology access points for veterans. Quality telehealth services are vital for veterans to access quality health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for veterans in rural or medically underserved communities like most of the Second Congressional district.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the struggle of getting health care close to home for rural New Mexicans. For veterans in my district, the challenge of connecting with medical professionals who understand their unique needs has proven tougher than ever. It’s why I’ve been fighting to find ways to expand telehealth services so families, seniors and veterans can continue to receive the prescriptions and day-to-day care they rely on to stay healthy. This bill aims to directly meet that challenge by targeting telehealth expansion to the communities that need it most like our rural veterans,” said Torres Small.
Under the CARES Act, Congress appropriated over $2 billion to support VA information technology for the pandemic response. The grant program enacted under the VA Telehealth Expansion Act would be designed to give preference to VA entities that represent veterans in rural or highly rural areas or operate in a medically underserved community.
Torres Small’s cosponsorship of the VA Telehealth Expansion Act follows her other efforts to expand telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic such as the introduction of the Increasing Rural Health Access During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Act, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for doctor’s visits provided over the phone.