WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced legislation today calling for a study on rural health care delivery. The goal of the study is to learn what is working efficiently and what could be improved to boost health outcomes in rural communities, including which emergency COVID telehealth provisions should be made permanent.
“Rural hospitals and health centers are essential medical facilities. They are especially important now. This study will assess if federal waivers expand access in a crisis. We need to learn how to more effectively deliver care and improve patient access to this care,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“Tele-health has been an especially valuable resource in rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sen. Smith. “As America continues to address the virus and prepares for future public health emergencies, we should be actively working to build upon and improve our tele-health infrastructure. That’s why Sen. Cassidy and I are making a bipartisan push for this study. It will provide critical information about disparities in access and quality of tele-health, the patient and provider experience, and more.”
The bill requires the comptroller general of the United States to conduct a study on access to health care, including telehealth, in rural areas during the COVID-19 public health emergency. A report on the findings is to be provided to the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the Senate and the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees in the House no later than 24 months after the date of enactment.
To see bill text, click here.