U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and a bipartisan group of his colleagues today introduced legislation designed to strengthen telemedicine programs in Alabama and across the U.S. The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study telehealth programs across the country to learn how telehealth can be used more effectively in future health emergencies.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the benefits of telemedicine for our country’s patients, providers and health care systems so that folks can stay healthy and safe and receive the care they need from their homes. This bill will help us continue to build our telehealth infrastructure so we can ensure that patients have access to these services, both during this pandemic and beyond,” Senator Jones said.
In a recurring report to be performed every five years, this legislation directs HHS to:
- conduct an inventory of telehealth initiatives in existence, including their capacity to handle increased volume during the response to a public health emergency;
- identify methods to expand and interconnect regional health information networks and state and regional broadband networks;
- evaluate ways to prepare for, monitor, respond rapidly to or manage the events of a public health emergency through the enhanced use of telehealth technologies;
- promote greater coordination among existing federal interagency telehealth and health information technology initiatives; and
- make recommendations related to updates on the use of telehealth in public health emergencies in Federal and State public health preparedness plans and any actions taken to implement such recommendations.
Senator Jones has been a strong advocate for telemedicine during his time in the Senate. On Wednesday during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Jones questioned telehealth experts and health insurance executives on how to encourage remote monitoring and use of telemedicine in the private sector.