Dogtown Media Supports the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act

July 7, 2020 - 5 minutes read

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. But it’s certainly necessary to progress in the correct direction. Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) recently introduced the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act.

If passed, the legislation would extend the telehealth policies implemented by the US Federal Government during the coronavirus pandemic. This would enable thousands of Americans to continue receiving access to emerging medical app technology — something that could make the crucial difference between life and death for senior citizens and those living in rural areas.

Expanding Modern Telemedicine Capabilities Is a Must

COVID-19 has exposed some significant flaws in the US healthcare system. Chief among them is the lack of access to adequate medical treatment for those living in remote regions.

If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area like New York City or Los Angeles, you’ve probably all too familiar with this problem. Rep. Gianforte has seen it firsthand in the state of Montana: “Many Montanans live in frontier and rural areas where access to doctors, particularly specialists, is a big challenge.”

Telemedicine has brought some invaluable benefits in our fight against COVID-19. And Gianforte is intent on keeping those advantages available. “Using technology to connect patients with doctors, telehealth tears down barriers, making it easier to see a doctor,” he explains. “This bill will keep the barriers down for good, ensuring Montanans have greater access to high-quality, more affordable care.”

Gianforte’s Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act is his latest in a long list of efforts to leverage telehealth to both increase access to medical care and reduce costs. Just this past February, he introduced bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), the Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to expand telemedicine services. This endeavor was only amplified as COVID-19 outbreaks sprung up across the US in March.

Addressing a Remote Problem That Hits Close to Home

With the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services can waive geographical limitations beyond the public health emergency period specified by the CARES Act. Prior to this waiver, medicare beneficiaries wanting to use telehealth services could only do so at designated “originating sites” and only during physician shortages.

The new legislation aims to make the telehealth coverage at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics (RHC) a permanent fixture. Essentially, this would enable rural providers to remotely serve patients and be properly compensated for their work.

The bill also removes restrictions on the provision of smart devices and other digital health technologies for patients. That’s huge — with remote monitoring and tracking, patients can be more proactive in improving their quality of life and reduce expensive trips to the emergency room.

We Proudly Support the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act

Many healthcare and medical technology organizations have voiced their support for Gianforte’s new legislation.

The Montana Hospital Association (MHA) has made telehealth’s integral role in managing the COVID-19 outbreak well known. “Access to this critically needed healthcare services was made possible through the expanded use of telemedicine. Legislation proposed by Congressman Gianforte will ensure this expanded access to care will continue,” explains Rich Rasmussen, President and CEO of the MHA.

Alongside the Connected Health Initiative (CHI), we also proudly stand by the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act. CHI is a coalition of ACT | The App Association. It’s composed of digital health ecosystem partners striving for positive policy changes that empower providers to harness the capabilities of emerging technologies like telemedicine. Committee members include Apple, Microsoft, Roche Holding AG, Intel, and Dogtown Media.

COVID-19 has made it clear that we need to improve how our healthcare system handles medical crises. The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act represents a substantial step in the right direction — one that can lead us towards a healthier future for all.

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