WLOX-TV Biloxi

Senators Wicker, Hyde-Smith join bipartisan call for permanent access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries

By WLOX Staff

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with Congress to ensure Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to telehealth.

Medicare beneficiaries have been allowed greater telehealth access and flexibility during the pandemic era, but the flexibilities are set to expire on December 31, 2024.

In rural areas, such as some in Mississippi, telehealth has proven to be a vital resource for those with limited access to quality healthcare.

“We urge you to work with Congress to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries have permanent access to telehealth services before the temporary waivers expire on December 31, 2024,” the lawmakers said.

“Enacting permanent telehealth legislation will require collaboration between HHS and Congress in the year ahead. We urge you to communicate to Congress and the public the authorities, appropriations, resources, and other supports needed to achieve this goal.”

Wicker and Hyde-Smith, members of a Senate telehealth working group, helped lead the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, which would expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors.

Led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the letter was also signed by Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., John Thune, R-S.D., and Mark Warner, D-Va., and U.S Representatives Mike Thompson, D-Calif., David Schweikert, R-Ariz., Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio.

The full text of the letter can be found here.