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Expanding Access to Telehealth Services

Sep 8, 2020
Column

Copperas Cove Leader Press
By Congressman Roger Williams
Expanding Access to Telehealth Services

Telehealth access is critical now more than ever as medical professionals have largely adapted to screening and appointments via technology so they can continue caring for patients when face to face visits pose too high a health risk. In our rural areas, this is even more significant as remote visits can mean the difference between life and death when there isn’t enough time to drive to a clinic or hospital.

I proudly helped pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act to not only allocate $200 million specifically to telehealth services nationwide, but to also provide increased flexibility for this lifesaving technology that tremendously benefits both patients and providers during COVID-19. It is vital that we keep extending these telehealth waivers so Texans continue having access to essential care, which is why I introduced the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act.

The CARES Act extended coverage for the cost of telehealth visits for patients until December 31, 2021, but my bill would extend coverage even further through December 21, 2025. Doctors, nurses, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers will be able to continue offering telehealth to their patients under the expansion, which is crucial to maintaining the health and safety of our communities.

The bill also requires the elimination of site restrictions so that patients can receive care in their homes and providers will be reimbursed at payment rates equal to those of face to face visits. By connecting Texans virtually with medical professionals, we are efficiently using our resources and state-of-the-art medical innovation to better serve, and protect, the American public.

I will always partner with our Texas health care providers and do all I can to deliver resources for the doctors and nurses working around the clock to treat and protect patients during the pandemic. I’m proud to have the support of invaluable providers in the 25th District like Coryell Health in Gatesville, who fully support the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act and say, “Representative Williams’ bill will open the door even wider for the residents of Gatesville and surrounding rural communities to more easily access health care. When patients, especially elderly patients, don’t have to always travel to the doctor’s office and can see a provider from the comfort of their own home with telemedicine via phone or video screen, rural health care is advanced light years.”

As we look toward further innovation and the future of health care delivery, the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act will improve the cost-effective delivery of these services and allow our rural communities, like those in Coryell County, to retain critical access to lifesaving care.

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