Trump wants broader role for telehealth services in Medicare

Posted at 4:16 PM, Aug 03, 2020

The Trump administration is taking steps to give telehealth a broader role under Medicare, with an executive order that serves as a call for Congress to make doctor visits via personal technology a permanent fixture of the program.

The order President Donald Trump signed Monday applies to one segment of Medicare recipients — people living in rural communities. But administration officials say it’s intended as a signal to Congress that Trump is ready to sign more significant legislation that would permanently open up telehealth as an option for all people with Medicare.

Trump says his administration is “taking action to make sure telehealth is here to stay.”

"When the invisible enemy struck our shores, we took immediate action to eliminate regulatory barriers to telehealth, making it easier for patients to consult with doctors from safety and convenience and really, they have great safety and great convenience right from their homes," Trump said.

While the CDC said in June it was working on expanding access to telehealth, it did list some drawbacks to the service:

  • Situations in which in-person visits are more appropriate due to urgency, underlying health conditions, or inability to perform an adequate physical exam
  • The need to address sensitive topics, especially if there is patient discomfort or concern for privacy
  • Limited access to technological devices (e.g., smartphone, tablet, computer) needed for a telehealth visit or connectivity issues
  • Level of comfort with technology for HCP and patients
  • Cultural acceptance of conducting virtual visits in lieu of in-person visits by HCP and patients
  • Interstate licensure challenges and other regulatory issues that may vary by state