Kelly introduced the Telehealth Extension Act in 2021

WASHINGTON—During a Ways & Means Committee hearing that examined opportunities and challenges in enhancing access to care in patients’ homes and modernizing care in rural and underserved communities, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) championed telehealth legislation he co-led, the Telehealth Extension Act, which he first introduced in 2021. This bipartisan bill ensures permanent access to telehealth for patients across the country by ending outdated geographic and site restrictions on where patients can receive approved telehealth services.

"For too many people across rural Western Pennsylvania, accessing high-speed internet can be a challenge. That means accessing telehealth care can be a challenge as well," Kelly said. "Where someone lives should not determine the quality of health care they receive. This is why we must remove barriers to health care and technology so we can help patients access the care they need. I've supported critical legislation, including the Telehealth Extension Act, to protect and expand telehealth options. As Medicare telehealth and Hospital at Home flexibilities are set to expire at the end of the year, once again we face the need to make at-home care possible for the millions of Americans who rely on it."

You can watch part of Rep. Kelly's questioning during the hearing here.

The Telehealth Extension Act would:
  • Permanently lift geographic and site-based restrictions so Medicare beneficiaries can use telehealth regardless of their zip code, and in the comfort and convenience of their own home or at designated health facilities offering telehealth.
  • Support the adoption of telehealth in underserved communities by ensuring federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, indian health service facilities and native Hawaiian health care systems can furnish telehealth services.
  • Provide a two-year temporary extension of COVID-19 emergency telehealth waivers. These waivers include permitting providers like speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists to furnish telehealth services; enabling critical access hospitals to continue providing outpatient behavioral therapy services through telehealth; and permitting payment for appropriate audio-only services.
  • Promote program integrity with reasonable guardrails for a small subset of telehealth services that have been targets of fraud without limiting patients’ access to care. The bill would require an in-person appointment within six months prior to ordering high-cost durable medical equipment (DME) or major clinical laboratory tests. The legislation also authorizes CMS to audit outlier physicians ordering DME and lab tests at high rates and recover fraudulent payments. Finally, CMS will track who is billing for DME and lab tests by requiring providers to use their own national provider identifier (NPI) when billing Medicare for a telehealth service.
  • Improve disaster preparedness by providing broad authority for CMS to authorize telehealth flexibilities during future emergencies.