The ATA Joins Congressional Champions to Introduce New Bipartisan Telehealth Legislation

New CONNECT for Health Act would advance the broader adoption of virtual care technologies and expand access to quality care

The ATA (@AmericanTelemed), the premier organization working to accelerate the adoption of telehealth, joined U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), alongside U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) to announce the introduction of new bipartisan legislation to support more widespread adoption of telehealth and virtual care technologies. The CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 is the most comprehensive telehealth Medicare reform package this Congress.

“Our members are proud to have worked with leaders in Congress, including Sen. Schatz, Sen. Wicker, and the Congressional Telehealth Caucus to introduce the CONNECT for Health Act,” said Ann Mond Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the ATA. “The ATA is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable and effective care when and where they need it. We believe that the ability to obtain care remotely is the key to achieving this vision, and the introduction of today’s legislation is an important step to achieving this shared goal. The ATA looks forward to working with Senator Schatz, Senator Wicker, and the other bipartisan cosponsors and numerous stakeholders, to pass this important legislation.”

Already passed into law, the Bipartisan Budget Act and the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act both included important telehealth provisions originally authored by the CONNECT Act sponsors. As a result, Medicare beneficiaries now have access to tele-stroke services and can use telehealth for home dialysis, and, in the Medicare Advantage program, telehealth is now offered as a base benefit.

“Passing these provisions into law was a huge accomplishment, but, on behalf of the telehealth community, we are thankful that these Congressional champions did not stop there and have continued to advance telehealth policy,” added Karen S. Rheuban, MD, an ATA member and Professor of Pediatrics; Director, University of Virginia Center for Telehealth; Senior Associate Dean for CME and External Affairs, University of Virginia. “The CONNECT Act would address Medicare payment restrictions for telehealth services, ensuring Medicare patients have access to care when and where they need it. The ATA is also pleased to see the removal of geographic restrictions on telehealth for mental health services and emergency medical care, areas where provider shortages continue to prevent access to care for too many Americans.”

About the ATA
As the only organization completely focused on advancing telehealth, the ATA is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable and appropriate care when and where they need it, enabling the system to do more good for more people. The ATA represents a broad and inclusive member network of technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models.