Senate Broadband Caucus Highlights Telehealth in Expo

You could be forgiven for thinking that Democrats and Republicans in the current Congress simply can’t agree on anything—especially when it comes to health care. But throughout the current legislative session, telehealth has stood out as one of those rare areas of bipartisan agreement, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle introducing more than two dozen telehealth-related bills. This week, leaders of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus again highlighted the potential that they see in telehealth when they hosted a telehealth expo on the Hill. Entitled “The Future of Telehealth in the 21st Century,” the event, co-hosted with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), allowed for a close-up look at the ways in which telehealth can help (and already is helping) to expand access to quality, affordable health care.

Exhibitors at the event, who ranged from device manufacturers to telehealth resource centers to academic medical centers (shoutout to CTeL Board Chair Dr. Curtis Lowery of UAMS Distance Health), provided a hands-on look at their products and services in action for attendees. Speakers included Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who co-founded the caucus along with Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR). “Telehealth holds great promise,” Capito told attendees, while highlighting the importance of expanded broadband access for her own rural state, where more than one third of residents still lack adequate broadband coverage. For her part, Heitkamp, whose home state of North Dakota has been a leader in the use of telehealth, pointed to the need for the regulatory side to catch up to technological innovation. “We need to lower the regulatory barriers” so that technologies can actually be deployed, she told attendees, adding that Congress must work to “tear down the bias and the barriers” to expanded telehealth reimbursement.

The Senate Broadband Caucus was formed in 2016. “As internet access plays an increasingly important role in all sectors of our economy, from education to agriculture, telemedicine to the innovation economy, the Senate Broadband Caucus will serve as a platform to engage in discussions across Committee jurisdictions and to inform senators and their staff about emerging broadband issues,” the five founding senators, all of whom represent states with significant rural populations, noted in a press release at the time.

Click here to learn more about the Senate Broadband Caucus.

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