AMA announces support for new Senate bill that would lift geographic, site restrictions on telehealth

September 21, 2020 – The AMA announced it’s support for the Senate bill, “Telehealth Modernization Act of 2020” (S. 4375), which would permanently remove many of the regulatory restrictions on telehealth that were temporarily lifted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander’s bill would permanently remove Medicare’s telehealth geographic and site restrictions.

Earlier this year, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted a general waiver provision enabling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to temporarily lift outdated originating site and geographic restrictions on Medicare’s coverage of telehealth-enabled services.

Before this, Medicare physicians were prohibited from offering most telehealth services outside of rural areas, and Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas were not able to receive most of those services unless they traveled to a healthcare facility. 

“During the pandemic, telemedicine has allowed physicians to provide care to patients while supporting physical distancing efforts and reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious diseases by avoiding unnecessary outpatient visits,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

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