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Telehealth Expanded During COVID-19


WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump announced an expansion in telehealth at a recent White House Coronavirus Task Force press conference. Medicare beneficiaries will now have the option to replace an in-person doctor’s visit using telemedicine by phone or video conference, and the appointment does not have to necessarily be related to coronavirus. The goal of the telehealth expansion is to provide patients the ability to receive care in their home, so they are less likely to be exposed to diseases like COVID-19 and to help prevent health facilities from overflowing during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We encourage everyone to maximize use of telehealth, to limit exposure to the virus,” said President Trump at the press conference.

Earlier this month, Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) championed the inclusion of a bipartisan telehealth provision in the coronavirus emergency supplemental package, which will allow more patients to get the care they need at home to avoid potentially overcrowded health care facilities, especially in rural areas.

To keep seniors safe at home, Medicare expands telemedicine
Associated Press
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare said Tuesday it will immediately expand coverage for telemedicine nationwide to help seniors with health problems stay home to avoid the coronavirus.

The new option will allow millions of older people to take care of ongoing medical problems as well as new concerns, while heeding public health advice to stay home during the outbreak.

For example, a patient with diabetes wouldn’t have to postpone a regular follow-up visit with the doctor to keep safe — he or she could do it via Skype. And people concerned they may have the virus could “see” their doctor or nurse practitioner virtually to find out how to get tested in person.

For seniors who don’t navigate technology, relatives or friends can assist. “If it’s your mom, you may need to go over to her house to help her do this,” said Verma. Bring your smartphone — but remember, don’t visit if you’re feeling sick.

Risk of serious illness from the coronavirus is greater for older people and those with underlying health problems such as lung conditions, diabetes or heart problems. Many Medicare beneficiaries are managing chronic health issues that put them at heightened risk. The telemedicine expansion is geared directly to this vulnerable group.

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Health (116th Congress)

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