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AFP, LIBRE Urge Congress to Continue Expanded Telehealth Availability for Patients

Dec 4, 2021 by AFP

Arlington, Va. – Today, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE Initiative urged congressional leaders to extend a measure enacted last year that has allowed more Americans to access health care via telehealth.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, the groups called for swift action to expand an important provision enacted under section 3701 of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The measure temporarily allowed high-deductible health insurance plans to cover telehealth services, but is set to expire at the end of this year and is not tied to other flexibilities expiring at the end of the current public health emergency.

“Failure to expand or permanently enact this flexibility would result in tens of millions of Americans losing access to care, particularly those most vulnerable,” the groups wrote.

The letter noted that a 2021 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey of employers found that more than 95% of them adopted pre-deductible coverage for telehealth services under the CARES Act. 76% of employers said they support making the provision permanent.

AFP and LIBRE encouraged the lawmakers to pass S.1704 and H.R.5981, The Telehealth Expansion Act of 2021, and H.R.5541, the Primary and Virtual Care Affordability Act. “It is critical that Congress acts swiftly on proposals such as these to protect access to care for the millions of individuals counting on it,” the groups wrote.

Together with the Progressive Policy Institute, AFP recently published a study showing that telehealth reduces costs for patients while increasing their access to critical care. The study found that during the peak of the pandemic, telehealth patients spent less and used fewer health services over time while health outcomes improved.

“This presents an invaluable opportunity for patients, providers, and employers to ensure individuals can continue to enjoy these life-saving flexibilities while lowering the cost of care and improve health outcomes,” the group wrote in its letter.

Click here to read the full letter.

For media inquiries, please contact Geoff Holtzman at gholtzman@afphq.org.