On April 2, members of the Urology Telehealth Task Force met virtually with healthcare policy staff from the office of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) on the reintroduction of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. Public Policy Council Chair, Dr. Eugene Rhee and Urology Telehealth Task Force Chair Dr. Aaron Spitz highlighted payment parity for telehealth services, the continuation of audio-only telehealth visits beyond the public health emergency and the elimination of the originating site requirement as the primary policy initiatives supported by the AUA. Senator Schatz’s staff was very receptive to those issues and expressed support for inclusion in the upcoming legislation.
A previous version of the CONNECT Act introduced in 2019 during the last Congress contained sections to loosen the originating site requirement, but was limited in scope. With the onset of the pandemic, proposed telehealth legislation has dramatically changed due to the obvious benefits now enjoyed by patients no matter their location. Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continue to discuss what provisions require legislation, and what issues the agency can regulate under current law.