Updated Dec 14, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A Vitals "Check-Up" on the future of telehealth policy

On Wednesday, December 14th, Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens and Axios Pro health care policy reporter Victoria Knight led conversations looking at the future of telehealth policy after the midterms and heading into 2023. Guests included Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). Our View from the Top sponsored segment featured CVS Health senior vice president of retail health Dr. Creagh Milford.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers described why telehealth has become such a popular issue in Congress and the policy path forward for delinking telehealth flexibilities from the public health emergency.

  • On how telehealth took off during the pandemic: “Being able to connect electronically can be a game changer and really make a difference in getting people access to care quicker and addressing those health care needs in a way that’s going to serve people better. It took a pandemic to really jumpstart telehealth but now both providers and patients are responding positively.”
  • On delinking telehealth flexibility from the public health emergency: “I think first and foremost, we want to delink the telehealth flexibilities from the COVID-19 public health emergency, and so that’s step one. We want to make sure that patients remain in control of their doctor visit decisions and that it’s the patient that is deciding whether or not to utilize telehealth services or if they prefer to see a provider in person.”

Rep. Mike Thompson discussed his congressional efforts to expand telemedicine and the barriers to the Senate taking up telehealth legislation that passed the House.

  • On what led to pandemic-era telehealth policies: “When COVID hit, it was a no brainer. We needed to do this for all the obvious reasons. The last thing you wanted were people who were frail or susceptible to have to go into a clinic or a hospital for services where they could get their health care while being at home, not being exposed to all of the COVID possibilities. So I had this bill that I had authored that would allow HHS to waive telemedicine restrictions during an emergency, and it just became good public policy.”
  • On the barriers to the Senate taking up telehealth legislation: “It is a bipartisan issue and it’s an important issue. As you know Congress is a strange place, and there are any number of bills right now that you and I and probably your entire viewership would agree should be passed, but for a number of very complicated reasons, they are lingering, this being one. My bill that you talked about would expand the provisions of telemedicine for two years. Now, there was some rumor that the Senate was inclined to do it, but only wanted to do it for one year, and we’re waiting to see what the final package comes down to.”

In the View from the Top segment, CVS Health senior vice president of retail health Dr. Creagh Milford highlighted the consumer interest in telehealth services.

  • “There’s no doubt that the pandemic completely accelerated telehealth services to your point. In a recent survey I looked at, 72% of consumers believe that the quality of care from a virtual visit is as good or better than an in-person visit, which is astounding relative to where we were a couple of years ago. You know, consumers want their health care delivered in a more personal way.”

Thank you CVS Health for sponsoring this event.

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