BPC Recommends Two-Year Extension Of Pandemic-Era Telehealth Policies

Inside Health Policy | By Jessica Karins
The Bipartisan Policy Center has released a wide-ranging slate of recommendations for telehealth policy after the COVID-19 public health emergency, including calling for a two-year extension of most telehealth flexibilities, which the group says would offer time for policymakers to further study the most-effective approaches to virtual care.
The recommendation could boost efforts by stakeholders to convince the Senate to pass by year’s end the two-year telehealth extension bill that cleared the House.
But BPC also calls for Congress to require that HHS and Congress’ Medicare payment advisers study hot-button issues before permanently expanding telehealth.
Researchers should use the time to study the benefits of hybrid care and what specialties and conditions it is most effective for, asses the value of audio-only care, and consider how telehealth flexibilities can fit into value-based care models, the report says.
In the Oct. 11 report titled “The Future of Telehealth After COVID-19: New Opportunities and Challenges,” the think tank issues numerous recommendations for how policymakers can preserve the benefits of telehealth after the end of the PHE.
“For starters, Congress and the Biden administration should extend most of the telehealth flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries for two years after the end of the PHE, and formally evaluate their impact,” BPC wrote.
It says a two-year extension of flexibilities to further study their impact and efficacy would maintain patients’ access to care while minimizing risks.

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