GOP Bill Aims to Extend Telehealth Services Permanently

Four Republican congress members have introduced a bill to permanently extend telehealth services for federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. U.S. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., who has firsthand experience as a practicing urologist in rural North Carolina, is leading the effort alongside Reps. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, Derrick Van Orden, R-Wisc., and Troy Nehls, R-Texas. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Medicare claims for services provided by federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics surged by 35.9%. This allowed millions in underserved communities to access vital behavioral and non-behavioral health services. Not only does telehealth offer greater convenience, but it also leads to cost savings for both taxpayers and patients. A study from the National Library of Medicine found reduced costs in several countries using telehealth, with one example showing that teledermatology practices had a lower hourly operating cost compared to conventional care.

The current flexibilities for telehealth services are set to expire on December 31, 2024, unless the proposed legislation is successful. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Greg Murphy, emphasized the importance of telehealth for rural communities, where patients often have to travel long distances to access healthcare. He highlighted the significant financial and time burdens they face, emphasizing the critical role of telehealth services for those living far from medical facilities.

Rep. Burgess, who previously worked in obstetrics and gynecology for two decades, expressed optimism about the continuous improvements in technology, touting telehealth as the next step in Americans’ healthcare. The effort to make telehealth services permanent has garnered support from these congress members who advocate for its continuation based on its proven benefits during the pandemic.

The proposed legislation seeks to ensure that telehealth services remain accessible to all Americans, particularly those living in rural areas. With the potential for permanence, the bill aims to address the long-standing healthcare challenges faced by underserved communities across the country.

Written by Staff Reports

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