CHARLESTON — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today welcomed the decision made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase telephone-based, or audio-only, telehealth reimbursements to equal other audio-visual and in-person visitation reimbursements. This news follows a letter Senator Capito sent yesterday along with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and others requesting this change.
“During this unprecedented time, it’s important West Virginians and others across the country have access to doctors and other medical professionals in the safest ways possible, which can often be through telehealth,” Senator Capito said. “We know our state is faced with broadband challenges that we are working to address every day. Given these challenges, it is essential that residents without broadband, especially our seniors, have access to medical care over the telephone. I’m glad that CMS recognizes these challenges and made this change which will help to ensure so many of our residents will continue to have access to the health care they need.”
Many West Virginians do not have access to reliable broadband, making it nearly impossible to use video-sharing to receive telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they must turn to telephone-based telehealth services. However, healthcare professionals who provide these services are not receiving the same reimbursement for their telephone-based consultations as they would for visual or in-person consultations.