Hoeven Helps Introduce Legislation to Expand Telehealth Access, Make Permanent Telehealth Flexibilities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today helped reintroduce the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), will expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare and make permanent telehealth flexibilities that were provided in recent years. Doing so will help improve health outcomes and make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors. Hoeven previously cosponsored the bill in the 117th Congress.

“Telehealth is an increasingly important tool that empowers Americans across the country, particularly in rural states like North Dakota, to access their health care providers with greater convenience and at a lower cost,” said Senator Hoeven. “That’s why we’re working to remove restrictions on this critical technology and provide the flexibility that patients and providers need to better utilize its potential for improving health and well-being.”

“While telehealth use has skyrocketed these last few years, our laws have not kept up. Telehealth is helping people in every part of the country get the care they need, and it’s here to stay,” said Senator Schatz. “Our comprehensive bill makes it easier for more people to see their doctors no matter where they live.”

“Telehealth is a revolutionary development in health care delivery. The internet put communications and commerce in the palm of our hand, and it is now doing the same for health care,” said Senator Wicker. “After years of dedicated efforts, I am pleased to see the growing support for making flexibility in telehealth delivery permanent. The CONNECT for Health Act will move us toward Medicare beneficiaries receiving the healthcare they deserve.”

Specifically, the CONNECT for Health Act would:

  • Permanently remove all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expand originating sites to include the home and other sites.
  • Permanently allow health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services.
  • Allow more eligible health care professionals to utilize telehealth services.
  • Remove unnecessary in-person visit requirements for telemental health services.
  • Require more published data to learn more about how telehealth is being used, impacts of quality of care, and how it can be improved to support patients and health care providers.

In addition to Hoeven, Schatz and Wicker, the CONNECT for Health is cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Angus King (I-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Todd Young (R-Ind.). Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).

A summary of the bill and the list of endorsing organizations are available here. The full text of the bill is available here.