This week, Representative Curtis introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Telehealth Awareness Week Resolution alongside fellow member of the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) and another fellow telehealth champion Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH). The Resolution designates the week of September 19 through September 25 as ‘Telehealth Awareness Week’.
“This resolution sends a strong message to the American people that Congress is serious about finding bipartisan solutions to creating a more affordable and accessible healthcare system,” said Rep. Curtis. “I applaud my Senate and House colleagues for joining me in introducing this resolution that highlights the significant strides we have made in our telehealth infrastructure over the past several years. I look forward to building off these successes to ensure millions of Americans maintain access to these services, especially individuals living in rural communities that often lack healthcare options.”
“This pandemic has proven that telehealth not only works, but that it’s essential. We saw telehealth services expand to deliver safe, high-quality, and cost-effective care during a time of crisis. At the end of the day, telehealth helps our more vulnerable populations access critical health care, no matter where they live or how mobile they might be. These benefits shouldn’t have an expiration date. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure people can maintain access to these essential virtual care services.” – Representative Peter Welch, Vermont Member at Large
“I am proud to join my colleagues in sponsoring this resolution to recognize Telehealth Awareness Week. In the past year-and-a-half, telehealth has to be an indispensable part of our healthcare system, easing the burden on strained hospitals and doctor’s offices, and helping at-risk Americans get necessary health care from the safety of their homes without interruption. As America recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to make responsible, permanent changes to telehealth policy going forward, to preserve access for the millions of providers and patients who have benefitted from this cost-saving, and life-saving modern technology.” – Representative Bill Johnson, Ohio 6th Congressional District
“The ATA is grateful for the steadfast support of bipartisan, bicameral Congressional leaders – including Representatives John Curtis, Peter Welch and Bill Johnson, and Senators Brian Schatz, Roger Wicker, Ben Cardin, John Thune, and Cindy Hyde-Smith – as they issue a resolution recognizing the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week during this pivotal time in healthcare. We are also honored to have more than 65 members of Congress, representing 34 states, signed on as Policy Champions of the Telehealth Awareness Week,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA. “With this historic momentum and the demonstrated value of telehealth over the past 19 months, it is imperative that Congress act on permanent telehealth reform to make permanent telehealth access a reality for millions of Americans.”
Regulatory action taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in the US gave millions of Americans access to vital health care services with the touch of a button. The 1135 Blanket Waivers issued by CMS in March 2020 permit health care providers to treat patients virtually – either by phone (audio-only) or through teleconferencing – and across state lines, which is a practice that regulators previously prohibited. These increased flexibilities resulted in over 24 million (one-third) of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services between March 2020 and October 2020.
In response to this, Representatives Curtis and Welch reintroduced the bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Telehealth Impact Reporting Act to understand the impacts of the emergency telehealth waivers issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan pair of House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee members subsequently sent a letter to the Secretary of HHS in July 2021 requesting the Administration thoroughly provide Congress with detailed plans for making these telehealth services permanent.
Since coming to Congress, Representative Curtis has been an avid supporter of promoting greater access to telehealth services. In 2019, he introduced the bipartisan Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act that would give healthcare systems the ability to test new innovative approaches to telehealth care delivery. He now serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee, giving him a unique opportunity to more effectively advocate on behalf of Utahns for these critical reforms to our healthcare system.