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Medicare and Telehealth Policy: Where Do We Go From Here?

Washington, DC – While telehealth is not new to health care, its usefulness became even more apparent with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to flexibilities allowed under the federal public health emergency (PHE), many, including Medicare beneficiaries, utilized telehealth in the absence of in-person care. But as the PHE draws to an expected close, questions about future use, as well as the impact on health care costs and patient outcomes, remain.  

With support from the Peterson Center on Healthcare, BPC’s Health Program releases a new report, The Future of Telehealth After COVID-19: New Opportunities and Challenges, which explores what increased telehealth flexibility would mean for Medicare beneficiaries. The recommendations, focused on four main categories—foundational, behavioral health, primary care, and specialty services—address policy questions about the permanency of the flexibilities afforded to the over 58 million Medicare beneficiaries. 

“We began an extensive effort a year and a half ago to develop evidence-based policy recommendations for the effective use of telehealth beyond the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. What we learned,” said BPC Senior Policy Analyst Julia Harris, “was that there is sustained interest from Medicare beneficiaries to continue accessing telehealth services. If we extend the current flexibilities, we will be able to better understand the impact of telehealth on health care costs and quality.”

In conjunction with our policy recommendations, BPC conducted a Medicare data analysis on telehealth utilization pre- and post-pandemic.

Read the full report and data analysis here.

On October 17, tune in as a panel of experts discuss the report’s recommendations as well as the future of telehealth use in U.S. health care. RSVP here.