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Connecticut Paves the Way for Telemedicine Expansion

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Telehealth expansion has been a hot topic throughout the country over the past year. One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it brought into question outdated regulations that limit access to high-quality, convenient, and innovative health care via smartphone apps.

Telehealth is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as “the use of technology to deliver health care, health information or health education at a distance.” Allowing patients to meet with their doctor remotely, during times that suit their schedule is a no-brainer in today’s world. Although telehealth is not a total replacement for traditional in-person health care, it is more affordable and accessible for patients, especially those in rural or underserved communities.

Like many states, Connecticut recently made a significant step toward increasing patient-centered care by passing HB 5596, which codifies the governor’s executive order to roll back regulations and remove barriers to telehealth. Several other states moved forward with telehealth expansion programs following an executive order by former President Donald Trump on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access, which added more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list.

The decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to finalize telehealth expansion dramatically improved health care access for millions of Americans. Such is why more states should follow a similar path to expand telemedicine. In fact, throughout 2020, the Trump administration increased the use of telehealth services for patients on government-run health care programs. It would be wise for the Biden administration to expand this list even more.

During the height of the pandemic, millions of patients were severely limited in their options to receive routine health care. A recent study found that more than 40 percent of Americans delayed or avoided medical procedures and appointments out of fear of possibly contracting COVID-19 in a health care facility.

Not to mention, preventative care significantly decreased due to fear of contracting the virus. For instance, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach reported mammograms dropped as much as 90 percent during the height of the pandemic. Of course, this fear would have been significantly

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