Congress Must Act Now to Allow Employers to Expand Telehealth Offerings

ERIC provides testimony to Committee on Energy and Commerce
on the future of telehealth

Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) provided testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health for today’s hearing titled “The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care.”

ERIC’s testimony focused on rule changes needed to address barriers keeping employers from expanding and improving telehealth benefits. This includes allowing employers to offer standalone telehealth benefits to employees and passing the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act to enable providers to practice telehealth across state lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. ERIC also called for lawmakers to enact a permanent solution to interstate licensure.

“Immediate action must be taken to ensure that patients who use telehealth, including for mental health services, have the best opportunity to find a provider ready and willing to see them when and where they need it,” said James Gelfand, Senior Vice President of Health Policy, ERIC. “Congress’ action could enable more access to  telehealth, creating incentives for providers to improve quality and affordable access for patients.”

ERIC also advocated establishing a federal set of telehealth standards that eliminate state barriers and protect patients while maximizing flexibility and care, unlike some state rules that block patients from care. ERIC believes that a streamlined set of rules will provide clarity to providers and maximize access for patients

Additionally, ERIC called on the Committee to designate standalone telehealth as an “excepted benefit,” allowing it to be offered to more patients. The designation is an easy one. Lawmakers would simply have to add the word “telehealth” into the appropriate sections of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and the Internal Revenue Code. The change would open up employers’ ability to offer telehealth benefits to millions of patients currently not allowed by Congress to access those benefits.

“There is no reason for lawmakers to drag their feet on opening up telehealth to millions of more Americans permanently. Employers want to provide this benefit to all employees; employees want to access this benefit. The time to act is now,” said Gelfand.

Click here to read ERIC’s testimony.

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All media inquiries to The ERISA Industry Committee should be directed to:

Kelly Broadway, 202.627.1918, kbroadway@eric.org

About The ERISA Industry Committee
ERIC is a national advocacy organization that exclusively represents large employers that provide health, retirement, paid leave, and other benefits to their nationwide workforces. With member companies that are leaders in every sector of the economy, ERIC advocates on the federal, state, and local levels for policies that promote flexibility and uniformity in the administration of their employee benefit plans.