Pallone Floor Statement on the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following statement on the House Floor today during consideration of H.R. 4040, the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2022:
I rise in support of H.R. 4040, the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act – bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Cheney and Dingell.
Over the course of this pandemic telehealth has served as an important tool for staying connected to care without increasing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. And in the Medicare program, millions have utilized telehealth for the first time during the pandemic thanks to actions taken early on by Congress and the Administration.
When the pandemic was beginning to take hold in America, Congress moved quickly to significantly expand access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries. This was critically important because Medicare beneficiaries are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19. The waiver of Medicare’s originating site and geographic restrictions during the public health emergency has allowed millions of Medicare beneficiaries nationwide to receive telehealth services, including audio-only services, without ever leaving their homes.
The Energy and Commerce Committee has a long history of working to expand access to telehealth services in the Medicare program. For example, the SUPPORT Act expanded access to substance use disorder services delivered via telehealth. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 permanently expanded access to telemental health services in Medicare. And most recently the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 extended key telehealth flexibilities for an additional five months after the end of the Public Health Emergency.
H.R. 4040 builds on the bipartisan telehealth extension included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. The bill extends the same key telehealth flexibilities as the previous legislation but now would extend them until December 31, 2024. This longer-term extension will provide beneficiaries and stakeholders with more certainty.
It will also give policymakers time to assess the impact expanded telehealth services have had on the Medicare program and on beneficiaries’ health and well-being, and the quality of care they are receiving.
I want to thank the many Energy and Commerce members who have been leaders on this issue over the years such as Representatives Dingell, Eshoo, Matsui, Welch, Blunt Rochester, Kelly and so many more. I also want to commend Representatives Cheney and Dingell for their bipartisan leadership on this legislation today.
I look forward to working with all members on a permanent solution to address telehealth coverage under Medicare, but in the meantime, this multi-year extension is critical for preserving access to telehealth services. The language included in the bill is the same bipartisan language previously negotiated by the House and Senate committees. And the bill is fully paid for. So, I hope we can once again extend these flexibilities with strong bipartisan support.
I urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 4040 today.