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Murphy and Colleagues Call for Extension of Pandemic Telehealth Expansion

Submitted by Senator Murphy’s Press Office.

WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, joined U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and a bipartisan, bicameral group of 44 lawmakers in calling for the permanent extension of expanded coverage of telehealth services to be included in must-pass legislation in February. Provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were included in previous COVID-19 relief legislation to allow Medicare beneficiaries in all areas of the country, and in their homes, to utilize telehealth services and to expand the types of health care providers eligible to provide telehealth. But these provisions will expire following the pandemic unless congressional leaders act to extend those measures or make them permanent.

“We strongly support permanently expanding Medicare coverage of telehealth and removing other barriers to the use of telehealth because of its ability to expand access to care, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes.  While Congress prepares to enact permanent telehealth legislation, we urge you to include an extension of the pandemic telehealth authorities in must-pass government funding legislation in February,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The bipartisan and bicameral Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act was first introduced in 2016. The bill, which is co-sponsored by 61 senators, including Murphy, is considered the most comprehensive telehealth legislation in Congress.

In addition to Murphy, Schatz, and Wicker, the letter also was signed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), James Langevin (D-R.I.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Michael Guest (R-Miss.).

Last February, Murphy reintroduced the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act, bipartisan legislation that allows any health care professional in good standing with a valid practitioner’s license to render services—including telehealth—anywhere for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full text of the letter is below and available here.

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