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Senators Shaheen, Hassan Help Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Telehealth Access

Bill Makes Permanent Telehealth Flexibilities That Congress Created as Part of COVID-19 Relief Bills

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. The CONNECT for Health Act will expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors.

“The past year has shown the importance of technological advances like telehealth that allowed Granite Staters to safely and swiftly receive the health care services they need. This was especially crucial for patients living in our rural communities, who otherwise would have had to travel long distances and risk their health to get care,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite Staters benefited tremendously from the expansion of telehealth services during the pandemic, which is why I’m glad to join Senators Schatz and Hassan in introducing this legislation that would ensure these changes become permanent, extending this lifeline to more Americans.”

“I’ve heard from many Granite Staters and health care providers about the benefits of telehealth services, which have greatly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Hassan. “I’m glad to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to permanently expand telehealth options and in turn get more patients, especially in rural communities, the care that they are counting on.”

 The bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act builds on previous Congressional efforts to expand telehealth. This piece of legislation includes new and revised provisions that will help more people access telehealth services. Specifically, the legislation 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.

A summary of the bill and the full list of endorsing organizations are available here.