U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would make expanded access to telehealth services permanent. These services were used extensively during the pandemic and many Americans, especially those in rural areas, still depend on them to access care.
“Telehealth helps ensure Montanans in every corner of our state have access to the care they need. Especially in rural states like Montana, we should be working to expand telehealth, not cut access when folks have come to depend on these resources,” Daines said.
“Telehealth is critical for workers and their families to access the essential health care services they need. Nevadans should not face barriers when seeking preventive care, and I’ll continue working across the aisle on legislation to protect and increase access to health care in every corner of our state,” Cortez Masto said.
Daines and Cortez Masto previously introduced this legislation in the 117th Congress.
See the full text of the bill HERE.
Representatives Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Adrian Smith (R-Nev.) and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The “Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023” will permanently allow first-dollar coverage of virtual care under high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), allowing Montanans and all Americans to access telehealth services without the burden of first meeting a deductible.
Daines originally authored and passed a provision in the “CARES Act” to expand access to virtual care services during the pandemic.
Statements of Support:
“Telehealth has transformed the way people access care, fueling earlier interventions, improved outcomes and reduced downstream costs. Maintaining first-dollar coverage of telehealth services will help safeguard continued access to affordable, high-quality virtual care for millions of U.S. workers, and we applaud Senators Daines (R-MT) and Cortez-Masto (D-NV) for their continued leadership on this important issue.” – Claudia Duck Tucker, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Teladoc Health
“The Montana Telehealth Alliance is a membership-based group of organizations and individuals, whose mission is to advocate for and support the advancement of healthcare by the use of telehealth for the benefit of all Montanans. The Montana Telehealth Alliance supports the continued efforts to provide enhanced access and quality healthcare to all Montanans. The need for timely, efficacious care paired with patient expectations in a digital era underlines the outstanding opportunity to make permanent the changes that expanded telehealth during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The MTA supports the Telehealth Extension Act of 2023.” – The Montana Telehealth Alliance
“Millions of Americans spend thousands of dollars of their own money on medical services before their insurance kicks in. Even with the benefit of tax exclusion, high deductibles are a struggle for many individuals and families. Why wouldn’t we want to allow employers to cover telehealth, including primary care and mental health services, immediately regardless of deductible? It’s access to health care, plain and simple. The Alliance for Connected Care is proud to support the Telehealth Expansion Act, which will ensure individuals with HDHP-HSAs continue to have ready access to virtual-care services on a permanent basis.” – Krista Drobac, Executive Director, Alliance for Connected Care
“As the U.S. healthcare system emerges from the pandemic, we are faced with many challenges, including the growing shortage of healthcare professionals, which was at critical levels pre-COVID and has only been exacerbated over these last three years. One of the important lessons learned was the value in leveraging telehealth to scale, to meet the rising demand for key healthcare services. We strongly support permanently extending the HDHP/HSA Telehealth Safe Harbor, to allow half of American workers and families to continue accessing clinically appropriate virtual services for a range of common conditions without the burden of first meeting a deductible. We applaud Senators Daines and Cortez-Masto for advancing this legislation, seeking to make this benefit a permanent option for Americans, and we urge Congress to pass it quickly into law.” – Kyle Zebley, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, American Telemedicine Association; Executive Director ATA Action
“Small business owners have cited the cost of health insurance as their number one problem for four decades. NFIB supports affordable, flexible, and predictable health insurance options for small business owners and employees. Empowering employers and employees with greater flexibility by allowing pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services will not only lead to cost-savings but better health outcomes. NFIB commends lawmakers for re-introducing the bipartisan Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023, which would ensure access to telehealth services for employees with certain high deductible health plans without having to meet a high deductible.” – Kevin Kuhlman Vice President, Federal Government Relations – National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
“Telehealth significantly expanded access to health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Daines’ legislation will help preserve the gains made in telehealth, and will ensure that patients continue to receive the care they need no matter where they live.” – Bob Olsen, Interim President and CEO, Montana Hospital Association