Ensuring Medicare Beneficiary Access: A Path to Telehealth Permanency

The Senate Finance Health Subcommittee held a hearing on extending access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. In 2022, Congress extended certain key telehealth flexibilities instituted during the public health emergency (PHE) through December 31, 2024, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.

  • Telehealth emerged as a vital connection for health centers and their patients during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, 100% of Pennsylvania health centers offered telehealth services, compared to just 23% in 2019. Virtual visits increased to more than 565,000 in 2022 compared to only 3,400 virtual visits in 2019. Almost half of these virtual visits in 2022 were for behavioral health services at the patients’ discretion.
  • Forty-eight percent (48%) of Pennsylvania health centers are in rural communities. Telehealth programs are especially critical in rural areas, where many residents can face long distances and significant commute time between home and health providers, particularly specialized providers. Telehealth remains an integral part of health center operations, even after the end of Public Health Emergency.

Read the testimony from the hearing or watch the live stream here.