Eshoo, Gianforte Introduce Bill to Increase Health Care Access Through Telehealth

February 6, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) introduced legislation to expand telehealth services throughout the country.

Their bipartisan National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act will increase access to care, reduce health care costs, collect critical information to improve policymaking, and streamline the administration of federal grants for researching the use of technology in health care.

“Telehealth has the potential to transform health care for every American,” Eshoo said. “This bipartisan legislation will improve the way telehealth is delivered by providers and accessed by patients so all Americans, regardless of whether they live in rural towns or urban centers, can benefit from accessible, affordable telehealth.”

“Many Montanans live in frontier and rural areas where access to doctors and specialists is a big challenge. They don’t worry about when they can see a doctor. They worry if there’s even a doctor to see,” Gianforte said. “Telehealth can fix these problems. Using modern technology to make health care more accessible is a commonsense solution to our rural doctor shortage in Montana. This bill will help ensure that patients can have access to doctors and specialists where it is convenient for them.”

Telehealth services use telecommunications technologies for patients to increase access to care by engaging remotely with doctors, from mental health care providers to oncologists and other specialists.

One challenge to increasing telehealth services is a lack of research and consistent data that informs the cost savings of telehealth. Currently, grants and research to improve access to telehealth services are spread across 10 different federal agencies with little or no coordination among them. Many hospital administrators are unaware of the grants, and if they are, they find the application process confusing and burdensome.

Eshoo and Gianforte’s National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act ensures efficient telehealth implementation and expands access to care.

Their bill eliminates many barriers to telehealth and reauthorizes $40 million in federal telehealth grant programs.

Specifically, the National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act:

  • simplifies the grant application process and streamlines the administrative structure of federal telehealth programs;
  • requires the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) to create a plan for a cohesive, efficient telehealth implementation at the federal level;
  • helps regional and national entities to enable greater use of telehealth;
  • improves telehealth research by standardizing the federal grant process and data reporting of grant recipients;
  • provides federal governance and oversight of federal telehealth spending and ensures information sharing and collaboration across federal agencies; and
  • creates a biennial report to Congress on federal investments in telehealth, assessing costs of and access to telehealth.

Text of Eshoo and Gianforte’s National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act may be found PDF iconHERE.