A key COVID-19 telehealth flexibility would be extended through legislation a House committee advanced Wednesday.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act of 2023 on a 29-20 vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), would permanently allow employers to offer coverage of telehealth services separate from group health insurance plans. Lawmakers mostly voted on party lines, with Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota casting the lone Democratic vote in favor.
Telehealth took off during the COVID-19 public health emergency, generating interest in continued utilization of the tool and in retaining regulatory flexibilities that made its proliferation possible amid the pandemic. Congress already authorized Medicare to reimburse for telehealth visits nationwide through 2024.
The Energy and Commerce Committee passed 14 other healthcare bills during its session Wednesday.
The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2023, sponsored by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), advanced on a party-line 27-17 vote. The legislation would reauthorize payments to children’s hospitals that operate graduate medical education programs for fiscal 2024 through fiscal 2028, but cut off payments to facilities that offer certain types of care for transgender patients.
The panel unanimously approved the Medicaid Primary Care Improvement Act of 2023, introduced by Crenshaw and Rep. Dr. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.). The measure would clarify that state Medicaid programs may reimburse direct primary care providers who treat beneficiaries.
The committee also unanimously supported the Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act of 2023, sponsored by Rep. Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas). The bill would extend federal support for state-based maternal health initiatives, including efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities.
The Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act of 2023, introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and advanced unanimously by the committee, would renew substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery programs and permanently extend Medicaid coverage of medication-assisted treatments.