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Telehealth services have expanded to address COVID-19 emergency. Let’s preserve the most effective innovations.

April 23, 2020

Over the past decade, telehealth services have been on the rise, in part due to the fact that more and more states are adopting telehealth-friendly policies. But by 2019, the proportion of U.S. consumers using telehealth services was still only about 10 percent. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, national Medicare and Michigan Medicaid and commercial plans have responded with changes to coverage, opening up telehealth options to more consumers than ever before.

Some changes to telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will have a long term impact, such as the expansion of telehealth capabilities among providers. With funding from the Federal Communications Commission as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) providers can apply for funding to become better equipped to offer telehealth services, particularly in rural or medically underserved areas hit hardest by the pandemic.

But most of the changes to telehealth were designed to be temporary, effective only during the COVID-19 emergency period. In this brief, we outline key changes to federal, state, and commercial telehealth policies and discuss challenges and opportunities for policymakers and decision leaders who wish to preserve telehealth access when the crisis is over.

Read “Telehealth services have expanded to address COVID-19 emergency, giving consumers more options for care” by Karin Teske, senior analyst at the Center for Health and Research Transformation.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Dana Chesla-Hughes, program manager, behavioral health, Michigan Health Endowment Fund.