The Trump administration recently announced the expansion of telehealth service offerings for seniors in efforts to decrease the risk of spreading the coronavirus. During the recent press briefing, President Trump stated, “Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype. What a historic breakthrough — this has not been done before.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Officials state that lessening the need for senior citizens who are currently unaffected by the coronavirus to participate in onsite doctor visits can help to eliminate exposure to potential infection.
“Medicare beneficiaries across the nation, no matter where they live, will now be able to receive a wide range of services via telehealth without ever having to leave home,” said Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “These services can also be provided in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospital outpatient departments, and more.” CMS, Verma ensures, would exercise “enforcement discretion when it comes to collecting copays, so that costs won’t be a barrier.”
President Trump encourages the American people to utilize the use of telehealth as much as possible in an effort to slow the virus’ spread and to prevent the chances of overcrowding hospitals. By converting in-person doctor and hospital visits to virtual telehealth sessions using video chat software, medical health professionals can utilize hospitals mostly for COVID-19 related cases. In a press statement, health secretary Alex Azar stated that healthcare providers could offer telehealth benefits to seniors “at a lower cost than traditional services.” The Trump administration’s action waive a numerous amount of existing Telehealth restrictions. They also promise that the federal government would make expedient efforts in ending the enforcement of several HIPAA components, which has steadily restricted providers seeking to provide remote healthcare for patients.
The action comes after Trump recently signed a new law authorizing over $8 billion in new spending to fight the recent pandemic, including dedicating approximately $500 million to assisting physicians in expanding to telehealth and telemedicine. “In addition, states have the authority to cover telehealth services for their medical patients, Trump said. “And by doing this, the patient is not seeing the doctor per se, but they’re seeing the doctor, so there’s no getting close.”