House overwhelmingly passes key telehealth extension bill

The House overwhelmingly passed legislation on late Wednesday that would extend key telehealth reimbursement flexibilities through the end of 2024. 

The chamber voted 416 to 12 to pass the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act, sending the legislation to the Senate. 

“As we look towards post-pandemic health delivery, it is important that we give our healthcare community certainty that telehealth is here to stay,” said Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and one of the bill cosponsors said in a statement.

If the legislation is signed into law, then key waivers that have been barriers to Medicare telehealth reimbursement will run through Dec. 2024. 

At the onset of the pandemic, Congress enabled regulators to waive regulations such as originating site. It also greatly expanded the number of services that could be reimbursed via telehealth. 

However, these flexibilities were originally set to run through the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), which is set to expire in October but could be renewed for another 90 days. Congress last year passed legislation that kept the flexibilities around for 5 months after the PHE ends.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has said that it needs Congress to make some of the flexibilities permanent after the end of the PHE.

Lawmakers hope that the latest extensions can give time to determine what needs to stick around. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., told the House Rules Committee earlier this week that he is expecting a report later this year on telehealth quality of care and program integrity.

The major bipartisan showing likely raises prospects the bill will get through the Senate, albeit likely after the chamber returns from a monthlong August recess.