Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined their colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2023 to help more Americans access telehealth services. The CONNECT for Health Act would expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent telehealth flexibilities that were enacted during COVID, make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors, and help improve health outcomes. The Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill included provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act to temporarily extend COVID-related telehealth flexibilities, but these flexibilities are set to expire in 2025.

“One of the lessons we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that our health care system is more adaptable than we thought. Over the last three years, patients have received quality care from the comfort of their own homes through the expansion of telehealth services. I’m proud to introduce legislation that will make permanent some of these services and ensure Virginians continue to have access to the affordable health care they need when they need it,” said Warner.

“Many Americans, particularly those living in rural communities, rely on telehealth to receive health care, and we should make it as easy as possible for them to do so. This bill is critical to doing just that, and I’m proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation to remove the unnecessary barriers that limit Americans’ access to telehealth services,”said Kaine. 

The CONNECT for Health Act was first introduced in 2016. Since 2016, several provisions of the original bill have been enacted into law or adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including provisions to remove restrictions on telehealth services for mental health, stroke care, and home dialysis. Three provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act were signed into law in 2020. As a result, there was a sharp rise in use of telehealth during the COVID pandemic as patients avoided traveling to hospitals and other health care settings and instead chose to receive care at home. Data shows that telehealth provides essential access to care with nearly a quarter of Americans accessing telehealth in the past month.

The CONNECT for Health Act of 2023 would build on this progress by:

  • Permanently removing all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expand originating sites to include the home and other sites;
  • Permanently allowing health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services;
  • Allowing more eligible health care professionals to utilize telehealth services;
  • Removing unnecessary in-person visit requirement for telemental health services;
  • Allowing for the waiver of telehealth restrictions during public health emergencies; and
  • Requiring more published data to learn more about how telehealth is being used, impacts of quality of care, and how it can be improved to support patients and health care providers.

The bill was led by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). The CONNECT for Health was also cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WW), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Thom Tillis (D-NC), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Steve Daines (R-MT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), John Boozman (R-AR), Jon Tester (D-MT), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Katie Britt (R-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Barrasso (R-WW), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IO), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Todd Young (R-IN). Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Roger Marshall (R-KS). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA-04), Doris Matsui (D-CA-07), David Schweikert (R-AZ-01), and Bill Johnson (R-OH-06).

The CONNECT for Health Act has the support of more than 150 organizations including AARP, America’s Essential Hospitals, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Group Association, American Nurses Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Telemedicine Association, Consumer Technology Association, Federation of American Hospitals, HIMSS, Kaiser Permanente, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Quality Forum, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, and Teladoc Health.

Full text of the bill is available here.