Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has pushed for the Trump administration to enact reforms that would expand access to telehealth, thus protecting Americans from exposure to the coronavirus.
The Trump administration expanded access to telemedicine in Medicare, which would allow hospitals to reduce crowding. Medicare patients will now have the ability to seek treatment from their providers through remote means. Before the Trump administration, patients had limited access to virtual check-ins, on-site care, and services in rural areas.
Through the reform, Medicare will temporarily pay doctors to provide telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries across the country.
Blackburn has served as one of the leaders in Congress advocating for increased access to telemedicine.
“We need to clear out as many regulatory barriers standing in the way of access to telemedicine as possible,” Blackburn said Tuesday.
Since 2017, during her time in the House, Blackburn has told Breitbart News about the need for increased access to telemedicine, which would particularly help rural Americans.
The Tennessee senator has pushed for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue waivers that would expand the use of telemedicine for Medicaid and Medicare.
CMS administrator Seema Verma, a member of Trump’s coronavirus response team, said in a statement on Tuesday:
The Trump Administration is taking swift and bold action to give patients greater access to care through telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak. These changes allow seniors to communicate with their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility so that they can limit risk of exposure and spread of this virus. Clinicians on the frontlines will now have greater flexibility to safely treat our beneficiaries.
Last week, Trump declared a national emergency under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act, which grants the CMS the broad authority to waive requirements for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Blackburn proposed the idea of using CMS waivers to allow telehealth visits with Verma and the White House.
The telehealth expansion decreases the need for vulnerable populations — such as older Americans and those with preexisting conditions — to come into doctors’ offices and hospitals. The reform also would allow for crowded hospitals and emergency rooms to better handle the coronavirus outbreak.
Blackburn has continued to advance telemedicine during her time in Congress.
In 2019, Blackburn introduced her Rural Health Agenda to increase rural Americans’ access to health care. She continues to work with the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to advance her Rural America Health Corps Act.
Blackburn’s SOFTWARE Act, which was passed as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, directed the Food and Drug Administration, which would increase Americans’ access to health software applications such as Fitbit, Noom, and others.
“This would decrease the need for vulnerable and complex medical patients to come into crowded doctor’s offices or go to hospitals for visits,” Blackburn said:
Telemedicine is already changing the way we interact with our doctors, but current regulations prevent doctors from using it in many cases. @realdonaldtrump made it easier for Medicare patients to access these services, but insurance companies & Medicaid need to get on board NOW. pic.twitter.com/1WiQwCYmuE
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) March 19, 2020