March 13,2020

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Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden Slams Trump Administration’s Delay in Expanding Telehealth Access for Seniors

After Congress Gave Trump Authority to Expand Use of Telehealth to Protect Seniors, CMS Slow to Issue Guidance

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today slammed the Trump administration for failing to utilize new authority to expand access to telehealth services in Medicare, a provision included in the coronavirus response package passed by Congress last week. In a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, Wyden urged the agency to issue guidance at once so seniors, who are at higher risk of getting very sick, can stay at home while still receiving care from their health providers.

“I urge you to provide guidance immediately regarding whether and how this new waiver authority will be used to expand access to telehealth services in Medicare,” Wyden wrote. “Any further delay to utilize this new telehealth waiver authority is simply unacceptable, given the urgent need to protect seniors during this public health emergency.”

Wyden helped write the provision in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to waive certain restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare, such as the current geographic requirements and limitations on where the telehealth service can take place. This will give health providers in Oregon greater ability to serve their patients while giving Oregonians peace of mind.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that Americans at higher risk, such as seniors and those with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, stay at home as much as possible during the outbreak. More information can be found here.

The full letter can be found here.