- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2020

President Trump signed an executive order Monday that expands the use of telehealth and makes permanent the options he provided to help rural areas deal with the pandemic.

“Today I’m taking action to ensure telehealth is here to stay,” Mr. Trump said.

Telehealth allows patients to see their doctors on the internet through their computer or smartphone. Millions of people have seen a doctor in this manner since the start of the coronavirus emergency in March, as much of the country sheltered in their homes to reduce transmission.

Mr. Trump said his order ensures that Medicare covers telehealth visits at no additional cost and allows co-pays to be waived.

Administration officials said telehealth can’t replace the “gold-standard” of in-person care but it’s a lifeline for patients in isolated areas.

The administration took an interest in telehealth early on but accelerated its efforts during the pandemic to expand the range of health providers, such as occupational therapists, who can provide it and be adequately reimbursed for it.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said additionally, the order will allow a range of mental health services to be covered.

The executive order also calls for an analysis of which additional services might be appropriate for telehealth.

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