HHS Secretary Azar promises Telehealth to be Permanent

As you know, ASIPP has been in the forefront and continuing our advocacy to make telehealth permanent for all insurers and all payers. In addition, we have also been trying to keep telephone only at the same price as face-to-face or telehealth visits (see April 9 letter to Alex Azar and Eric Hargan, May 1 letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and May 5 letter to HHS Deputy Azar and Assistant Deputy Hargan).

Good news! Yesterday, HHS Secretary stated that, “HHS will do everything it can to permanently keep telehealth waivers granted during the pandemic” at The Hill virtual event on the future of health care.

Azar’s commitment to push regulatory or legislative reforms to keep the COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities comes as hundreds of provider and patient organizations press HHS to continue telehealth waivers after the pandemic.

“I’ve been traveling all over the country and I visit with doctors and hospitals and nursing homes. I think we’d have a revolution if anyone tried to go backwards on this,” Azar said. “This is now I think an embedded part of our health care system."

Azar said getting Medicare and Medicaid treatment out of its “1960s-style of delivery” was something the department had always wanted to do, but Congress had never been able to change the Social Security Act to make the programs amenable to telehealth.

We will keep you posted with updates.