Press releases

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a package of bills to improve and broaden Louisianians’ access to telehealth services. The proposed legislation would make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors during an emergency or natural disaster. It would also end a regulation that limits access to telehealth services and expand access to virtual mental and behavioral health treatment.

“Telehealth services help Louisiana patients who aren’t always able to make a trip to the doctor. I wrote these bills to support telehealth providers and the Louisianians they care for,” said Kennedy.

Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act 

The Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act would make it easier for Louisianians to access health care during an emergency, including natural disasters. The bill would allow physicians delivering care during a public health emergency or a major disaster declaration to receive the same compensation for audio-only telehealth visits as they would receive for in-person appointments.

Text of the Audio-Only Telehealth for Emergencies Act is available here.

Telehealth HSA Act

The Telehealth Health Savings Account (HSA) Act would allow employers to offer high-deductible health plans that include telehealth services without limiting employees’ ability to use health savings accounts. A current IRS regulation stops employees from making or receiving contributions to HSAs if they hold a high-deductible health plan that waives the deductible for telehealth services. This means that employees holding such high-deductible health plans will often need to pay out of pocket for telehealth services.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act temporarily waived this regulation, and the Telehealth HSA Act would make this waiver permanent.

Text of the Telehealth HSA Act is available here.

EASE Behavioral Health Services Act

The Enhance Access to Support Essential (EASE) Behavioral Health Services Act would allow mental and behavioral health professionals providing telehealth services through Medicare and Medicaid to be reimbursed at the same levels as they would for conducting in-person visits. This would allow patients to receive care in the comfort of their own homes and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.

Text of the EASE Behavioral Health Services Act is available here.