February 13, 2024

Cassidy, Padilla, House Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Modernize Health Care System, Improve Access to Digital Health Services

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT-01), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) introduced the Health Accelerating Consumers’ Care by Expediting Self-Scheduling (ACCESS) Act to modernize health care and improve patients’ access to care. The bicameral legislation provides regulatory certainty for digital health services allowing patients to easily search for and book health care appointments online while protecting personal health information.

“The last thing a sick patient needs is a barrier when trying to book a medical appointment,” said Dr. Cassidy. “As a doctor, I am a firm believer that we should use the technology available to us to make accessing health care simpler.”

“Every American deserves accessible physical and mental health care without having to jump through outdated hoops,” said Senator Padilla. “The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated provider wait times, making incorporating digital health programs essential to efficiently administering care. We cannot let scheduling obstacles prevent Americans in crisis from receiving care when they need it most.”

The Health ACCESS Act will increase patients’ access to care by enhancing digital health platforms and allowing patients to better find health care services and schedule appointments,” said Representative Moore. “By modernizing our existing regulatory framework, we can bolster innovation in the health care marketplace and ultimately reduce barriers to care.”

“I am proud to introduce the Health ACCESS Act, which will make it easier to book medical appointments online for Medicare enrollees and other federal health care beneficiaries,” said Representative Schneider. “By updating a law created before the advent of the internet, our bill unleashes the power of online booking platforms to help patients find available health care providers in real time. In addition to making it easier to access health services, online booking platforms help maximize doctors’ schedules by filling open slots created by last-minute cancellations.”

“In a post-pandemic world, its critically important for Congress to find ways to modernize our healthcare system and champion innovation and efficiency,” said Representative Malliotakis. “Our ACCESS Act will increase access to a wider variety of healthcare providers and make it easier for Americans to book medical appointments online. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation brings Congress one step closer to creating a patient-centric healthcare system that prioritizes the well-being and needs of our constituents.”

“Regulatory ambiguity is holding back our health care system from innovating, digitizing, and improving care for patients,” said Representative Panetta. “The bipartisan, bicameral ACCESS Act would adjust existing statute to allow digital health and appointment booking platforms to work together to improve patient experience, appointment efficiency, and provider choice.  With more patients turning to digital health services than ever before, this commonsense action would further promote the modern health care that Americans deserve.”

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the demand for digital health services and other innovative practices. Under current law, however, there is no distinction between illegal referral practices and scheduling services that reduce the barriers associated with accessing necessary and appropriate care. The Health ACCESS Act would adjust the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) to remove the regulatory ambiguity allowing digital health and appointment booking platforms to work together to better serve patients. Doing so ultimately improves access to care via user-friendly services, expands provider choice and scheduling availability, and enhances the overall health care experience and ecosystem.

The Health ACCESS Act is supported by the Chronic Care Policy Alliance, Boston Medical Center, Corewell Health, and Indiana University Health.