WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the Equal Access to Care Act yesterday. The legislation aims to expand access to telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency period by allowing licensed health care providers to treat patients remotely through the phone and online wherever the patient is located.
“Telehealth has proven to be an effective tool for providing patients access to health care, including during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Blackburn. “Increased utilization from March 2 to April 14, shows urgent care telehealth visits increased 135 percent and nonurgent visits increased 4,345 percent. Removing bureaucratic red tape will result in more services in more places by more providers so that Americans can get care without the risk of exposing themselves to COVID-19 in a doctor’s office or hospital.”
“Expanding healthcare access in the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic is crucial to our nation’s recovery. This bill will remove bureaucratic barriers that for too long have stood in the way of effective telemedicine, and will help ensure the American people have their healthcare needs met – regardless of where they live or where their doctor is licensed – and equip our healthcare providers with the capacity they need to treat patients and ultimately defeat this virus,” Senator Cruz said.
The bill will extend availability to telemedicine practices by 180 days after the President declares the national emergency under the National Emergencies Act with respect to COVID-19 over.