Most in-person care services were limited at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic as lockdowns spread throughout the nation. Due to the new coronavirus’s rapid spread, healthcare providers started using virtual care to sustain patient care. However, concerns about the regulatory flexibility associated to virtual care started to surface as the severity and quantity of COVID-19 instances started to decline. Because of the epidemic, several flexibility measures were implemented. Several interested parties have submitted requests for extensions of the telehealth waiver. The US Senate was asked in a letter from the American Telehealth Association to approve a two-year extension of these flexibilities in order to permit expanded telehealth use. The letter, which was signed by 375 healthcare professionals, voiced worry about being forced back to in-person care while pointing out that telemedicine benefits many patients. Two-year extensions for telemedicine flexibilities for Medicare recipients are part of a recently released year-end package, but the legislation has not yet been approved by both chambers of Congress. The legislation would specifically increase flexibility by removing geographic limitations, enabling Medicare beneficiaries to receive care anywhere, and allowing federally designated health centers and rural health centers to keep employing telehealth. State-level telehealth regulations, however, continue to be a hodgepodge of restrictions.The Commonwealth Fund analysis examined state laws passed since March 2021 in detail and noted that many states had adopted more sophisticated telehealth policies, probably as a result of their early pandemic experiences. More states now allow telehealth consultations conducted solely over the phone than they did prior to the epidemic, the survey claims. At least 20 states modified their laws to permit or mandate telephone visits, recognizing the need of reaching out to the 42 million individuals who lack broadband connection as well as those without the necessary equipment for video visits and others who are unaccustomed to using video technology.
The research also covered how telemedicine, which accounted for 40% of behavioral health visits during the pandemic, had a beneficial effect on access to behavioral health care. The prevalence of telehealth in this field prompted action in several jurisdictions. For instance, while enacting rules limiting telephone visits, Nebraska and Arizona included an exception for behavioral health services. Despite the convenience of telemedicine, many patients still favor in-person consultations. Therefore, several states have engaged in efforts to safeguard patients’ access to physicians. For instance, laws have been passed in Illinois and Oregon that prohibit insurers from pressuring patients to use telehealth when they express a preference for in-person appointments.