On June 17, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing to examine telehealth lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. This hearing is a critical early step in educating lawmakers and ensuring physicians can continue to maximize the benefits of telehealth and enhance patient access to care after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.
Those testifying at the hearing are Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, President of the American Telemedicine Association; Dr. Andrea Willis, Chief Medical Officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Dr. Karen S. Rheuban, Director of the University of Virginia’s Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth; and Dr. Sanjeev Arora, founder and director of Project ECHO/ECHO Institute.
As part of our ongoing advocacy to retain key telehealth waivers and provisions the AUA, in conjunction with its other Alliance of Specialty Medicine colleagues, sent a letter in advance of the HELP hearing to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sharing some its members’ experiences as active providers of telemedicine during the PHE. It included a request for improved guidance and adoption of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to facilitate broader physician adoption of telehealth and improve access to care across state lines and specifically cited, as an example, a urologist licensed in Maryland whose patients come from both Maryland and bordering communities in Pennsylvania due to the geographic location of his practice.
The hearing, which is expected to begin at 10:00 am EST, can be seen here.
The AUA is actively monitoring the issue of telehealth and has developed a strategy to retain telemedicine waiver provisions after the coronavirus pandemic is over, which includes educating lawmakers on the importance of telemedicine access to patients around the country. In addition, the AUA’s Urology Telehealth Taskforce is partnering with the Regulatory Workgroup to communicate with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to focus on issues such as maintaining expansion of services included on the telehealth services list; providing coverage and enhanced payment for the telephone E/M services (CPT codes 99441-99443); and preserving direct supervision revisions that allow physicians to supervise in-office clinical staff using communications technologies, when appropriate.
For more information about the Senate hearing or the AUA’s telehealth advocacy, please contact LegislativeAffairs@AUAnet.org.