New Bill Allowing Audio-Only Health Encounters Will Improve Access To Care For Millions Of Seniors

posted by AHIP

on January 27, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), issued this statement following the announcement by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) of their intent to reintroduce the Ensuring Parity in MA for Audio-Only Telehealth Act that would allow for audio-only telehealth services to count toward Medicare Advantage risk adjustment:

Every American deserves access to the care they need, when they need it, in a way that is safe and convenient for them. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Americans have been relying on telehealth to continue to receive care and manage their chronic health conditions while reducing their risk of exposure to the virus. But while new flexibilities have encouraged the use of telehealth in Medicare Advantage, restrictions that require telehealth to include engagement through video mean that millions of Americans have been left behind.

We applaud Senators Cortez Masto and Scott for taking this important step to make telehealth access more equitable for seniors and people with disabilities, especially those in rural America. Medicare Advantage delivers high-quality, affordable coverage for people on a low income, with about 40% of Medicare Advantage enrollees earning less than $25,000 a year. Many seniors in rural and urban communities still struggle with a lack of access to broadband Internet services. This bill recognizes that for many of these Americans, a phone call is their only option for health care at home. We also commend the inclusion of guardrails to defend against attempted fraud, which is essential to keeping health care more affordable for everyone.

This bipartisan legislative action is a remarkable example of how we can work together for public-private solutions that improve affordability and access for every American. We encourage members of the House to follow suit to ensure stable access to telehealth for Americans in every one of our communities.


About AHIP

AHIP is the national association whose members provide coverage for health care and related services to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. Through these offerings, we improve and protect the health and financial security of consumers, families, businesses, communities and the nation. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that improve affordability, value, access, and well-being for consumers. Visit www.ahip.org for more information.

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