MIL-OSI USA: What They’re Saying: Healthcare Community Applauds Telehealth Expansion Act


Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Michelle Steel (CA-48)

(November 30, 2021) Washington, DC – Last week, Reps. Michelle Steel (CA-48) and Susie Lee (NV-3) introduced the Telehealth Expansion Act. This legislation would make permanent a waiver created by the CARES Act to allow Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to access telehealth services without first having to meet their deductible. If Congress does not act to extend this waiver before it expires on December 31, 2021, millions of Americans with HSAs would find it more difficult to access telemedicine.

Here’s a look at some of the support for this critical legislation from members of the healthcare community:

“Approximately 51 percent of the American workforce would benefit from permanently allowing high-deductible health plans to cover telehealth services before a beneficiary’s deductible is met. The pandemic forced changes in our way of life and in healthcare delivery, necessitating a meaningful expansion of healthcare access through telehealth.  Lessons learned from the pandemic should be applied to the healthcare system for the long term and permanently extending this safe harbor is one of many steps in the right direction.” –  Mary Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council

“The American Telemedicine Association applauds Representatives Steel and Lee for introducing this bipartisan legislation to allow first-dollar coverage of virtual care under high-deductible health plans, which would ensure patients nationwide have access to safe, quality care via telehealth without the burden of first meeting a deductible,” said Kyle Zebley, Vice President of Public Policy at the ATA. “It is essential that this legislation is passed to address significant barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing effective and appropriate care.”

“The CARES Act expanded telehealth services to all Americans insured with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), providing a safe and effective way for millions of workers to access medical care. However, the expansion was temporary and expires at the end of 2021. We applaud Rep. Steel and her co-sponsors for introducing the Telehealth Expansion Act, which would make telehealth services available to HSA owners permanently. Rep. Steel’s bill would enhance public safety and access to medical care for both rural and underserved communities. We strongly support the legislation and urge its prompt adoption before this important benefit expires.” –  Kevin McKechnie, Senior Vice President and Executive Director American Bankers Association Health Savings Account Council

“An estimated 54 percent of American workers, from retail associates to construction workers, receive their healthcare through high-deductible health plans (HDHPs.) We can meaningfully expand access to care through the passage of the Telehealth Expansion Act of 2021 by permanently allowing coverage of virtual care services without having to first meet a deductible for those on HDHPs.  Improving access to telehealth and remote care services must be a priority beyond the pandemic, for all Americans, regardless of how they get their health insurance. We look forward to working toward the passage of this important, bipartisan legislation.” – Claudia Duck Tucker, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Teladoc Health, Inc.

“Patients like telehealth, and the silly rules limiting access to telehealth and its use should be changed. Health Innovation Alliance is glad to see the leadership from Reps. Steel and Lee introducing the Telehealth Expansion Act in the House. Patients with health savings accounts should be able to use those accounts to pay for telehealth services, plain and simple. We support this legislation and ask Congress to take it up and pass it before the end of the year.” – Brett Meeks, Health Innovation Alliance

“This bill is badly needed to permanently extend the gains made in the CARES Act to enable employers to continue to provide first-dollar coverage for telehealth services after the pandemic ends. People need the flexibility to access care when and where they can. Employers strongly support telehealth services.” – Neil Trautwein, Executive Director, Partnership for Employer-Sponsored Coverage (P4ESC)

“Telehealth proved to be a Godsend during the pandemic – not just because it kept Americans connected to their doctors, but because it saved them money, too. Congress empowered millions of families with high-deductible plans to temporarily access life-saving telehealth services throughout this pandemic. We applaud Representative Michelle Steel for introducing the Telehealth Expansion Act to ensure patients, particularly those with high-deductible plans, can continue to have access to telehealth on a long-term basis.”   Charlie Katebi, Policy Analyst, Americans for Prosperity

“The Partnership to Advance Virtual Care thanks Representatives Steel and Lee for their important work on this time-sensitive virtual care issue, which is not tied to the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency the way other telehealth provisions are,” said PAVC’s Executive Director Mara McDermott. “By permanently extending the safe harbor allowing those with HSA-eligible HDHPs to have telehealth services covered on a first-dollar basis, this bipartisan legislation will ensure access to valuable telehealth services for millions of Americans with employment-based health coverage.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress enabled employers to offer pre-deductible coverage for telehealth services, expanding access to care and reducing out-of-pocket costs for millions of Americans,” said Alliance for Connected Care executive director Krista Drobac. “The bipartisan Telehealth Expansion Act of 2021 will ensure individuals with HDHP-HSAs continue to have ready access to virtual-care services while remaining eligible to make and receive contributions to an HSA.”

“Broad access to virtual care is urgently important to helping people everywhere take control of their health – particularly in the aftermath of the public health emergency. Noom – a leading digital health platform focused on behavior change science – applauds the bipartisan introduction of the Telehealth Expansion Act, which will enable Americans with high-deductible plans to have continued access to these services,” – Michal Rosenn, General Counsel, Noom.

“NRF supports the permanent extension of first dollar coverage for telehealth services and applauds Representative Steel for her work on this issue. We look forward to working with her to extend this coverage before it expires at the end of this calendar year.” –  Ed Egee, Vice President, Government Relations & Workforce Development, National Retail Federation

“The American Benefits Council strongly supports the Telehealth Expansion Act to provide employers and health plans permanent flexibility to offer telehealth services pre-deductible,” said Ilyse Schuman, senior vice president, health policy, for the American Benefits Council. “The benefits of telehealth will extend beyond the pandemic, and so must the ability of HSA-eligible high deductible health plans to cover telehealth without cost-sharing.”

The Alliance to Fight for Health Care lauds Representatives Steel (R-CA) and Lee (D-NV) for introducing H.R. 5981, legislation to ensure that people can continue to access affordable telehealth services if they have a health savings account. According to a Morning Consult National Tracking Poll sponsored by the Alliance, seven in ten insured adults (71%) feel it is important that they are able to access telehealth services under their current health care plan and 89% rated their or their family member’s previous telehealth visit(s) as good or excellent. With this important flexibility set to expire December 31st 2021, Congress must act now to keep telehealth affordable.”