Support for Telemedicine During Pandemic

Jessica Scott, Class of 2021, Belmont Law

The current coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed numerous countries’ healthcare systems, including China and Italy who are unable to help all the patients that walk through the hospital doors in critical condition as a result of the coronavirus. As physical hospital locations in China are full and overflowing with patients, some telehealth services, including Ali Health, JD Health, and WeDoctor, have come forward to help coronavirus patients at home. These companies have helped aid in at home screenings and patient care while allowing most patients to stay put and avoid going out and spreading the virus.

In the midst of this pandemic, the United States passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriate Act (“Act”) which waived certain Medicare requirements for telemedicine, making access more readily available to those on Medicare. The federal government is considering passing a bill to stimulate the economy that could potentially provide $1 trillion dollars to various sources. This bill contains support for telemedicine to help aid patients with coronavirus and includes proposals to relax tax rules for telehealth services in order to help keep patients out of hospitals and doctors’ offices and avoid overcrowding. On March 23, Congress democrats blocked the bill and as of right now (March 24) are renegotiating the terms.

The federal government is trying to use telemedicine to help ensure that everyone has access to healthcare in the midst of this epidemic. While this may seem temporary, this could be the stimulus that telemedicine needs in order to be readily accessible to patients long term. The Act that has already been passed will allow Medicare patients access to healthcare in their own home, and the potential bill may help fund the need for those patients and many more.

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