On June 29, the House Appropriations Committee released the Report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS), and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations, which included the AUA’s requested language on telehealth. The AUA drafted several telehealth provisions that, if enacted, would help ensure patients can continue to access care through telehealth. Data about telehealth usage can also be adequately collected to shape future policy. The AUA met with the staff of various House Appropriations Committee members to request the language be included in the report and we are pleased to see that language included with minimal changes. The House Appropriations Committee passed this bill on June 30. The measure is expected to be considered by the full House later this month.
The report language states the following:
The Committee recognizes that demand for telemedicine increased in 2020 in response to the COVID–19 pandemic. In addition, the Committee notes disparities in telehealth exist between and within racial and ethnic groups, rural and urban locations, and geographic regions as detailed in a December 2021 report by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Committee urges the Secretary, working with CMS and HRSA, to categorize telehealth usage data, including for audio-only services, by Health Professional Shortage Areas. The Committee further urges the Secretary to work across agencies to ensure that improvements to broadband availability are prioritized in those areas with lowest telehealth usage, highest audio-only usage, and a known health professional shortage. The Committee requests an update within 120 days of the date of enactment of this Act on this categorization and broadband availability.
The AUA appreciates the inclusion of this language and looks forward to the vital collection of data to help shape permanent telehealth reimbursement.