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Thompson, Welch, Johnson, Schweikert, Matsui Introduce CONNECT Act

Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), Co-Chair of the Congressional Telehealth Caucus, along with fellow Co-Chairs Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL), Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06) and Rep David Schweikert (AZ-06) and caucus member Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-06) announced the introduction of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. This bipartisan and bicameral comprehensive package expands the use of telehealth services, delivering cost effective and efficient care to patients. Senators Schatz, Wicker, Cardin, Thune, Warner, and Hyde-Smith introduced the companion Senate legislation.

“Telehealth is a proven and cost-effective method of delivering health care to patients, especially those in rural or underserved areas. The Coronavirus pandemic has only further proven the efficacy of the practice. That’s why I am proud to join with my colleagues on the Telehealth Caucus to reintroduce the CONNECT Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to expand the use of telehealth,” said Thompson. “The CONNECT Act allows telehealth to be used to deliver mental health and emergency care and allowing new sites such as Federally-qualified health centers to deliver care through telehealth. I urge House and Senate leadership to move this bill quickly so we can better deliver health care for the American people.”

“This pandemic has proven that telehealth not only works, but that it’s essential,” said Welch. “Underserved areas in both rural and urban communities desperately need cost-effective solutions to address the gap in health services. This bipartisan bill will help bridge that gap by expanding telehealth to improve quality of care, increase access and reduce costs across America. This bill is a commonsense step to make sure that our policies keep pace with our technology.”

“Study after study demonstrates that the use of telehealth to provide healthcare services is beneficial for improved quality of care, access to care, and reducing healthcare costs,” Johnson said. “Telehealth has surged in popularity over the last year due to the pandemic. To keep the ball rolling in the right direction, we’ve got to remove some of the barriers that limit the use of telehealth and make responsible, permanent changes. This legislation does just that.”

“I am proud to re-introduce the bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act, this important legislation ensures patients can efficiently and conveniently connect with their medical professionals,” said Schweikert. “Americans deserve access to innovative, affordable healthcare technologies like telehealth, when and where they need it most. In this last year, we have seen remarkable technological advancements in health care that we must further utilize. I look forward to working with my colleagues to expand and make this type of disruptive innovative technology permanent.”

 “The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how patients and providers engage in health care delivery – and telehealth has proven a critical tool to providing care throughout our communities,” said Matsui. “The expansion of telehealth services in the past year has been crucial to reaching our most vulnerable patients, Older Americans, and the traditionally underserved. The CONNECT for Health Act further builds on this progress by permanently removing barriers to telehealth that will give providers the flexibility they need to meet patients where they are at.”

The bipartisan and bicameral CONNECT Act is a comprehensive expansion of telehealth services that would waive telehealth restrictions during national emergencies, allow telehealth to be used to recertify patients as eligible for hospice benefits, work to prevent telehealth fraud and abuse, create reporting and analysis mechanisms, allow Native American health facilities to be used as originating sites for telehealth services, and help to improve testing for future telehealth models. You can click here for a one-page summary of the bill and here to read text of the bill.

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