Daines, Smith Renew Push to Permanently Expand Telehealth Services During Telehealth Awareness Week

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in honor of Telehealth Awareness Week today reintroduced their bipartisan “Expanded Telehealth Access Act” that would make pandemic-driven expanded access to telehealth services under Medicare permanent.

“In rural states like Montana, folks often have to drive long distances just to receive care. Expanded telehealth services help relieve this burden and give folks increased access to quality, affordable care. Now is not the time to cut back on these critical services, and I’ll keep working to ensure Montanans are able to see the providers they need,” Daines said.

“The pandemic showed us that telehealth services are a lifeline for patients across Minnesota who may otherwise not be able to access the health care they need,” said Smith. “This legislation will ensure that patients who access physical and occupational therapists, audiologists, and speech language pathologists via telehealth can continue to get those services reimbursed permanently.”

For bill text, click HERE.

Daines and Smith first introduced the “Expanded Telehealth Access Act” in 2021.

Statements of Support:

“Occupational therapy has long recognized the critical role environment plays in health and wellness, including the virtual environment.  Waivers issued by CMS authorizing occupational therapy professionals to provide services to Medicare beneficiaries via telehealth illuminated the substantial impact occupational therapy can provide through the virtual environment.  Not only did the waivers provide an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to receive effective occupational therapy intervention in new environments, but occupational therapy was able to actualize the use of telehealth to reduce or remove barriers to care. AOTA champions the bi-partisan efforts of Senators Daines and Smith to ensure that the provision of occupational therapy delivered via telehealth will remain an option for Medicare beneficiaries on a permanent basis.” – Alyson Stover, MOT, JD, OTR/L, BCP, President, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

“The use of telehealth during the pandemic helped ensure patient access to physical therapist services and provided an option for therapy clinics and their patients. And, it’s made it all the more clear just how valuable telehealth is to patients who may need alternative access to therapy. It is critical that Congress make this option for therapy services permanent for Medicare patients. We applaud Senators Daines and Smith for their leadership on this important bipartisan legislation.” – Roger Herr, PT, MPA, President, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

“The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association applauds Senators Daines and Smith for reintroducing this critical legislation, and for their continued efforts to ensure that America’s seniors maintain robust access to needed audiology and speech-language pathology care for hearing, balance, speech and language, swallowing, and cognitive-communication disorders through telehealth services.” – Robert M. Augustine, PhD, CCC-SLPPresident, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)