WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have cosponsored the bipartisan Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technology (CONNECT) for Health Act, legislation to improve and expand access to telehealth services.
“Telehealth was already a promising health care delivery option, but it quickly became essential amid the pandemic. Now, we must ensure it is widely accessible in the long term in order to more readily meet patients’ needs and give providers the ability to offer care to more Americans. Making these changes permanent and better understanding how to utilize this revolutionary tool is both common sense and profoundly important,” said Boozman.
“Eliminating certain restrictions for telehealth services allows Arkansans greater access to healthcare without traveling long distances. Our bill will keep these services in place even after the public health emergency expires,” said Cotton.
The CONNECT for Health Act of 2021 was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and, in addition to Boozman and Cotton, is supported by 47 senators.
The legislation was first introduced in 2016 and also has the support of more than 150 organizations including AARP, America’s Essential Hospitals, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Group Association, American Nurses Association, American Telemedicine Association, Children’s National Hospital, eHealth Initiative, Federation of American Hospitals, Health Innovation Alliance, HIMSS, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, Personal Connected Health Alliance and Teladoc Health.
The CONNECT for Health Act will:
- Permanently remove all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expand originating sites to include the home and other sites;
- Allow health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services, a provision currently in place due to the pandemic but on a temporary basis;
- Provide the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the permanent authority to waive telehealth restrictions, a provision currently in place due to the pandemic but on a temporary basis;
- Allow for the waiver of telehealth restrictions during public health emergencies; and
- Require a study to learn more about how telehealth has been used during the current COVID-19 pandemic.