Congress is working to expand telehealth access for Americans, but special interests are working to keep healthcare costs high. Action Alerts!
Many Americans, particularly during this pandemic, have benefitted from expanded access to telemedicine services. There are a number of bills in Congress that seek to make permanent changes in the rules to allow more access to telemedicine, but there are also pushes to mandate that insurers reimburse for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person visits (called payment parity). These crony price-fixing schemes are designed to thwart competition and keep healthcare costs high, and they must be opposed.
Telehealth offers an opportunity for lowering healthcare costs, since telehealth visits are inherently less expensive than in-person visits. Telehealth saves patients time commuting and sitting in waiting rooms, and for patients with chronic conditions that require many appointments, this is a big deal. Evidence demonstrates that telehealth is beneficial for patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Mandating payment parity for telehealth is not the way to expand access to this type of medicine.
A number of states have already passed laws mandating payment parity for telehealth. Yet telehealth is also thriving in states that have not mandated payment parity. Mandating that insurers pay the same for telehealth as in-person care erases telemedicine’s cost-effectiveness: Compared to an average $146 office visit, a patient can connect with a physician virtually for $79. An online clinic in Minnesota reported an average of $88 lower cost per episode compared with traditional care.
Price controls are, in general, a bad idea that we should not pursue. Telemedicine is clearly part of the answer for COVID, but we cannot let cronyism ruin states’ response as it has the federal response. At the federal level, we have even seen the government gagging doctors and telling them what they can and cannot say to their patients about COVID, particularly with regard to natural treatments that have strong evidence to back them up. We must let doctors decide what they tell their patients and also what they charge their patients.
We must urge states with these mandates to repeal these laws and send a message to Congress not to go down this road.
Action Alert! Send a message to Congress urging them not to adopt payment parity for telehealth. Please send your message immediately. By sending this message, you will also be supporting our petition to ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.
If you live in a state with telehealth payment parity laws in place (AR, DE, GA, HI, KY, MN, MO, NM, UT, VA), send a message to the legislature to repeal it. Take Action!
Check below if your state is considering telehealth payment parity legislation, and click the link to oppose these bills.