Washington, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Greg Pence (IN-06) participated in a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing entitled “The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care.” Rep. Pence praised the Trump Administration’s quick efforts to temporarily remove unnecessary barriers to telehealth services at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep Pence is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1332, the Telehealth Modernization Act, legislation to make the Trump Administration waivers permanent. This legislation will expand telehealth technologies by removing barriers so millions of Americans living in rural communities can access innovative, life-saving care.
Rep. Pence’s full remarks and questions are transcribed as prepared for delivery below.
Thank you Chair Eshoo and Ranking Member Guthrie for holding this hearing and thank you to the witnesses for appearing before us today to discuss the advantages of telehealth technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
In rural districts like Indiana’s Sixth, telehealth expansion during the pandemic has been a game changer.
Countless Hoosiers have benefitted from the convenience of services that remotely connect patients to doctors, specialists, and other healthcare professionals all from the comfort of their own home.
Throughout the pandemic, telehealth proved that it can provide high quality, patient-centered care that, in many instances, mirrors the type of care received in person.
Under President Trump’s leadership, flexibility in telehealth services allowed physicians to stretch their resources to meet the diverse needs of disparate communities.
In Indiana’s 6th District, two hospital systems received funding under the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program to service patient needs with innovative methods of care.
Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield used these grants to develop a portable camera system for COVID-19 infected patients to connect with infectious disease experts located at neighboring hospital systems.
Beyond the pandemic, telehealth services will play a key role in addressing barriers to care for rural patients, especially those that suffer from mobility issues or patients with chronic conditions.
It is important to recognize, however, that these services are rendered useless for Hoosiers and all Americans that sit on the wrong side of the digital divide. Innovative models of care will not overcome inadequate Internet connections.
Further, as this committee develops solutions to the future development of telehealth technologies, we must remain cognizant of the challenges of wasteful spending and fraudulent claims that will strain an already bloated healthcare system.
Dr. Mehrotra, I understand that there are certain conditions, such as movement disorders, which require in-person interactions to properly diagnose and treat. In your testimony you also mention the limitation of telemedicine visits for things like ear infections for infants. This is especially difficult for patients in rural America with limited access to resources.
Can you expand more on how we could blend telehealth services into traditional care to better impact rural America and patients with chronic healthcare conditions?
What are some examples of diseases or conditions where telehealth may not be the best avenue for proper diagnosis or treatment?