Baldwin, Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on VA Secretary Wilkie to Provide Coverage for Telehealth Services for America’s Veterans During the Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin led a bipartisan group of senators to call on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to provide coverage of comprehensive telehealth services, including voice communication, for beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Currently, federal regulations do not allow CHAMPVA to cover health care services that are delivered through audio-only conferencing, telephone calls and text messaging.
The letter was led by Senator Baldwin and also signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Michael Rounds (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
The full letter is available here and included below.
Dear Secretary Wilkie,
We write today to encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide coverage of comprehensive telehealth services, including voice communication, for beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Telehealth has been an important resource for our constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has helped ensure that patients are able to access care without exposing themselves or their providers to the risk of COVID-19 infection. This is in part due to Congressional and administrative action. Many patients that are covered by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance are now able to receive a greater variety of telehealth services in their own homes, through different platforms, for the duration of the public health emergency due to COVID-19. Our nation’s veterans are also increasingly utilizing telehealth services. This year, VA has seen a 1,000 percent increase in the number of telehealth video appointments conducted each day.
Our constituents, including those who reside in rural areas where internet access may be limited, need access to telehealth services that involve voice communication, especially during a public health emergency. We appreciate the steps VA has taken in recent years to make telehealth more accessible to veterans and their families, but in order for this access to be meaningful, it must reach constituents through the platforms that work best for them and their providers. As such, we urge VA to take the necessary steps to immediately ensure CHAMPVA beneficiaries are able to access health services through voice communication platforms.
We look forward to working with you to ensure continued progress on this issue.
An online version of this release is available here.
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