Due to COVID-19, states are making major policy and regulatory changes to expand health systems’ telehealth capabilities to meet the needs of patients and providers. This shift has tremendous potential to help people who have historically lacked access to medical care, including people in rural communities and people in low-income, medically underserved areas. However, health advocates should not assume that provider use of telehealth during the pandemic — when there is little choice — will shift health care delivery permanently. States must take the necessary steps to make telehealth accessible to low-income people and to help providers make the transition to telehealth permanent.
Considering both the public health crisis and future patient needs, Families USA has assembled state policy recommendations around three themes: 1) improving telehealth financing and implementation models to increase reach; 2) removing provider barriers to increase access to telehealth; and, 3) bridging the digital divide to improve patient access to telehealth services.