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Faith & Freedom Coalition Urges Congress to Make Permanent Changes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Regulations

DULUTH, Ga. – Faith & Freedom Coalition joins Americans for Prosperity and 35+ other organizations in a letter urging Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer to take immediate legislative steps to make permanent changes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) regulations, which have saved countless lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

“On behalf of the Faith & Freedom Coalition we urge Congress to make these permanent changes to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) regulations,” said Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “We must continue to work to help reform our nation’s healthcare system and to create policies that consider the well-being of everyone. These permanent changes will better prepare our nation for any future healthcare crisis.”

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed a tragic reality: America’s healthcare system often stands in the way of doctors, nurses, and medical researchers helping people. It is magnifying the harms of well-meaning but misguided policies that until now had remained largely unseen, but which led to critical shortages of healthcare professionals, medical equipment, and other necessities. The following temporary changes have enabled more patients to be seen, tested and treated. They should be made permanent.

  • Telehealth. Telehealth is a perfect tool for social distancing because it keeps people at home, helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus and saving lives. Under the administration’s emergency waivers, Medicare can pay for office, hospital and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country for all beneficiaries. It also allows providers to forward videos and images to other doctors, known as “store and forward.” Telehealth has proven very popular with Medicare beneficiaries, with one CMS data analyst reporting telehealth visits for Medicare beneficiaries went from about 10,000 a week to 300,000 as of the last week in March.
  • Professional Licensing. In response to hospitals in hard-hit areas resorting to retirees and medical students to fill gaps, CMS relaxed a variety of guidelines regulating how physicians, nurse practitioners and occupational therapists can do their jobs. Under the relaxed guidance, clinicians can now practice at the top of their licenses and across state lines. Automatic licensing recognition would be a godsend for patients and could help to ease local physician and nurse shortages.
  • Physician Supervision. Cutting out non-essential physician supervision and signoff requirements – for example, a requirement that mandates that a physician (as opposed to a nurse or physician assistant) must physically order home health services, sign the patient’s plan of care and/or re-certify that the patient is eligible for services – can be counterproductive in a critical situation like a viral pandemic.
  • Patient Privacy. The Department of Health and Human Services’ current policy allows for more software platforms to be used in provider-patient communication (e.g., Skype and FaceTime), which would be otherwise prohibited by HIPAA. This is helping more patients get access to effective tracing, testing and treatment.

It is impossible to know when that next crisis will hit or what it will bring. This is why the Faith & Freedom Coalition urges that these waivers are made into permanent reforms so that we can help save people’s lives in today’s crisis now and be prepared to save lives in the crises of tomorrow.

About the Faith & Freedom Coalition

The Faith and Freedom Coalition is a national grassroots movement of over 2 million conservatives and people of faith in support of time-honored values, stronger families, and individual freedom. Learn more about Faith & Freedom at www.ffcoalition.com.

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