US President Donald Trump issued an executive order on August 3 that aims to expand telehealth access to Medicare beneficiaries beyond the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE) period. The executive order focuses on rural healthcare providers in particular, noting the difficulties patients in rural areas face in obtaining accessible, high-quality healthcare services over the years. The order contains four specific directives:
- The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must create a new 1115A model to test payment mechanisms related to rural healthcare providers.
- HHS, the Federal Communications Commission, and the US Department of Agriculture must develop a strategy to improve rural health care through developing healthcare-related infrastructure.
- HHS must issue a report regarding existing and planned policy initiatives that enhance various rural healthcare quality metrics, including identifying “regulatory burdens that limit the availability of clinical professionals.”
- HHS must propose regulation that would extend the measures taken during the PHE beyond its current duration as to both “the additional telehealth services offered to Medicare beneficiaries” and “the services, reporting, staffing, and supervision flexibilities offered to Medicare providers in rural areas.”