Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Leads Bipartisan Effort To Ensure Vital Health Care Providers Can Provide Telehealth Services to Medicare Patients
(Houston, TX) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), along with Representatives Doris Matsui (CA-06), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), and David McKinley (WV-01), called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the types of providers eligible to provide telehealth services under Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic to include physical therapy practitioners, occupational therapy practitioners, speech language pathologists, and audiologists.
Currently, CMS rules restrict these providers from being reimbursed for telehealth services, but the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants CMS the authority to waive these restrictions during a public health emergency. The members urged CMS to use this authority to ensure patients can access these vital health care services while also practicing the necessary social distancing to remain safe.
“Medicare beneficiaries are some of the most vulnerable for contracting the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Current stay at home orders and social distancing protocols are leaving many beneficiaries with underlying conditions without access to the services they need,” the members wrote. “We cannot continue to put older and health compromised Medicare beneficiaries at risk by forcing them to choose between forgoing regular care or risking exposure to the virus.”
Under Section 3703 of the CARES Act, CMS has the authority to waive certain restrictions for providers to furnish telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In their letter, the members note that precluding therapy professionals from Medicare telehealth reimbursement would lead to a significant lack of access for patients relying on rehabilitative, habilitative, and audiologic care to help them live independently, participate in daily activities, and maintain their overall health and well-being.
The letter to CMS was also signed by Representatives William Timmons (SC-04), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), and Don Young (AK-AL).
You can read the full text of the letter here.