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Rep. Williams Ensures Rural Communities Receive Permanent Access to Telehealth Services

Jan 25, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX-25) reintroduced the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act (H.R. 341) to permanently extend telehealth provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act. The legislation would also eliminate site restrictions for telehealth so that patients can receive care in their homes, and providers will be reimbursed at payment rates the same as face-to-face visits.

“Throughout COVID-19, physicians and patients have greatly benefited from telehealth waivers under the CARES Act as they have largely had to adapt to screenings or treatment via technology. By permanently extending these waivers, Texans in our rural communities will continue having direct access to these essential services,” said Congressman Williams. “As we look toward further innovation and the future of health care delivery, I’m proud to re-introduce the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act so that our rural communities permanently retain critical access to lifesaving care.”

The Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act would extend telehealth provisions in the CARES Act permanently, including the following:

  • Section 3703: Expanding Medicare Telehealth Flexibilities

  • Section 3704: Allowing Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics

  • Section 3701: Health Savings Accounts for Telehealth Services

  • Section 3705: Expanding Medicare Telehealth for Home Dialysis Patients

  • Section 3706: Allowing for the Use of Telehealth during the Hospice Care Recertification Process in Medicare

  • Section 3707: Encouraging the Use of Telecommunications Systems for Home Health Services in Medicare

Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will be required to submit a report to Congress at the end of year five on the successes and limitations of telehealth specifically detailing savings or costs associated with the extensions. The report will have a specific emphasis on how telehealth extensions have benefited rural areas throughout the United States.

To view bill text, please click here.

Supporting groups include:

Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH)
“During the pandemic it had been proven through the use of temporary authorizations that using telemedicine and electronic communications to connect a patient with a provider in a Community Health Center or Rural Health Clinic works without diminishing the quality of care, plus it has enhanced access to care for many. There is not a reason this should not become permanent. Representative Williams is leading the way in advancing health care access with this bill and with no increased cost to Medicare.”

National Rural Health Association (NRHA)
“NRHA applauds Representative Williams for reintroducing the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act. Making permanent important CARES Act telehealth provisions is vital to rural health care as we look toward the future of health care delivery. In particular, we commend this bill for allowing the continuation of telehealth services at Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers, and enabling them to be reimbursed properly, which will greatly increase access to care,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association.

National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NRHC)
“The telehealth policies adopted in response to the pandemic were vitally important for our rural health clinics,” said Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. “But the current telehealth policies are both flawed and temporary. Rep. Williams’s legislation corrects the flaws and allows safety-net providers to permanently provide telehealth visits to underserved communities.”                                                                                                                                                                                   

Texas Hospital Association (THA)
“On behalf of our more than 450 member hospitals and health systems, the Texas Hospital Association applauds Congressman Roger Williams for his leadership on the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act,” said Ted Shaw, Texas Hospital Association President and CEO. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, without question, the value of telehealth services to patients and providers. In a state as vast as Texas, making permanent telehealth flexibilities provided under the CARES Act will undoubtedly improve access to care during this critical time and beyond.”     

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Congressman Roger Williams represents the 25th Congressional District of Texas and serves as a member of the House Committee on Financial Services.

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