U.S. Senator Katie Britt Supports Bipartisan Legislation To Expand Telehealth Access, Make Permanent Telehealth Flexibilities

December 20, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today expressed her support for the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2023. Reintroduced by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) earlier this year and cosponsored by Senator Britt and a group of 57 additional Senate colleagues, this bipartisan bill would expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors.

In December 2022, provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were included in the FY23 government funding bill that temporarily extended access to expanded telehealth services. Those provisions are set to expire in 2025, making the need for permanent telehealth policy even more urgent.

“Many Alabama communities rely on the incredible resource that is telehealth and have become increasingly accustomed to its ease of access in recent years,” said Senator Britt. “I’m proud to support legislation that would ensure Alabamians have timely and accessible healthcare solutions – no matter their zip code. Telemedicine is also an important tool for healthcare workers and medical providers, and I appreciate that this legislation supports their ability to reach and treat more hardworking families.”

“While telehealth use has skyrocketed these last few years, our laws have not kept up. Telehealth is helping people in every part of the country get the care they need, and it’s here to stay,” stated Senator Schatz. “Our comprehensive bill makes it easier for more people to see their doctors no matter where they live.”

Three provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were signed into law in 2020. As a result, there was a sharp rise in use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients avoided traveling to hospitals and other health care settings and instead chose to receive care at home. Data shows that telehealth provides essential access to care with nearly a quarter of Americans accessing telehealth in the past month.

The CONNECT for Health Act was first introduced in 2016 and is considered the most comprehensive legislation on telehealth in Congress. Since 2016, several provisions of the bill were enacted into law or adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including provisions to remove restrictions on telehealth services for mental health, stroke care, and home dialysis.

The updated version of the CONNECT for Health Act builds on that progress and includes new and revised provisions that will help more people access telehealth services. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Permanently remove all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expand originating sites to include the home and other sites;
  • Permanently allow health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services;
  • Allow more eligible health care professionals to utilize telehealth services;
  • Remove unnecessary in-person visit requirement for telemental health services;
  • Allow for the waiver of telehealth restrictions during public health emergencies; and
  • Require more published data to learn more about how telehealth is being used, impacts of quality of care, and how it can be improved to support patients and health care providers.

The full text of the bill is available here. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio).

The CONNECT for Health Act has the support of more than 150 organizations including AARP, America’s Essential Hospitals, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Group Association, American Nurses Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Telemedicine Association, Consumer Technology Association, Federation of American Hospitals, HIMSS, Kaiser Permanente, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Quality Forum, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, and Teladoc Health.

In addition to Senators Schatz, Wicker, and Britt, the CONNECT for Health Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.Dak.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Angus King (I-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.), Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.Dak.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (D-N.C.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), John Hoeven (R-N.Dak.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Todd Young (R-Ind.). Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kans.).