Hundreds of organizations urge governors to extend telehealth licensure flexibilities

a female behavioral health specialist consults via video with a patient
Many immunocompromised patients, as well as those with limited mobility and those requiring specialized care, have had their care disrupted by the expiration of the licensure flexibilities, according to the Alliance for Connected Care, the ALS Association and the National Organization for Rare Disorders. (American Well)

More than 230 organizations sent a letter (PDF) to the governors of all 50 states urging them to extend licensure flexibilities for telehealth visits expanded during the pandemic.

In the letter penned by the Alliance for Connected Care, the ALS Association and the National Organization for Rare Disorders, with hundreds of signatories, health organizations asked governors to keep the telehealth licensure flexibilities in place through the end of the federal public health emergency, allowing out-of-state patients to receive necessary care.

During the pandemic, all states waived some licensure requirements to make it easier for people to receive virtual care, even if the provider resided in a different state than the patient.

But many states have let these flexibilities expire along with emergency declarations instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which “has been extremely detrimental and disruptive to necessary and ongoing patient care,” according to the letter.

As a result, providers across the country have been forced to send notice to thousands of out-of-state patients that they must either cancel their telehealth appointments or travel across state lines to keep them.

This has disrupted many patients’ abilities to receive the care they need, the organizations said, including immunocompromised patients who can’t risk exposure to COVID-19 as well as patients requiring specialized care or with limited mobility.

RELATED: The future of telehealth: How audio-only services improve access and health equity

The organizations also called on the governors to develop long-term solutions to improve access to healthcare, including care from providers in other states.

“We must build on the lessons learned from the pandemic and ensure patients can access care from their providers regardless of where they live, especially as the pandemic continues,” said Krista Drobac, executive director of the Alliance for Connected Care, in a statement. “Patients and their families seek care across state lines for many reasons, and the licensure flexibilities put in place throughout the pandemic have been critical for expanding patient access to care, improving care coordination and continuity of care, and addressing workforce shortages. State governors must act to ensure these flexibilities continue and consider solutions to address the ongoing needs of patients both the pandemic and in the future.”

Other organizations are calling for long-term telehealth expansions from the federal government, and many have been doing so for months.

The American Telemedicine Association recently urged the Biden administration to extend the public health emergency through the end of 2022 to protect telehealth coverage policies expanded during the pandemic.

RELATED: ATA urges HHS to protect telehealth coverage by extending public health emergency through 2022

In July, over 400 organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership asking for permanent expansion of these telehealth flexibilities.