The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Telehealth should be strengthened


The Sept. 7 Health & Science article “Telemedicine boomed, but is now threatened” brought light to a potentially troubling setback to one of the most promising health-care delivery stories coming out of the coronavirus pandemic: the ability of millions of Americans with chronic conditions and their caregivers to access health-care providers through telehealth.

That is why the National Health Council joined 34 other national patient advocacy and health organizations on a set of Principles for Telehealth Policy. One of these key principles is that telehealth policy should remove geographic restrictions, which can limit patients’ ability to see the provider that can best meet their needs. This includes allowing providers to practice across state lines through telehealth services, increasing access to care and improving care coordination for patients, particularly in underserved areas.

Policymakers at the state and federal levels need to find a balanced solution that increases access to providers while creating appropriate guardrails to prevent fraud, waste and abuse, and to ensure patients and providers can determine the best setting of care for their specific needs.

We know that better access to health care equals better outcomes in the long run, ultimately reducing cost — and telehealth is proving to be a valuable tool that should be protected and enhanced in this regard.

Randall Rutta, Washington

The writer is chief executive of the
National Health Council.