CONNECT for Health Act Reintroduced

A bipartisan group of 60 senators has reintroduced an updated version of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act.


A companion bill has also been introduced in the House.


The CONNECT for Health Act – led by Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Ben Cardin, D-Md., John Thune, R-S.D., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss – would expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors.


The earlier form of the bill was first introduced in 2016. And since 2016, several provisions of the 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.


In December 2022, Sen. Schatz secured the inclusion of provisions from the CONNECT for Health Act into the fiscal year 2023 government funding bill, extending access to telehealth services. Those provisions are set to expire in 2025, making the need urgent for more permanent telehealth policy in Federal law.


The latest version of the CONNECT for Health Act builds on past progress and includes new and revised provisions that will help more people access telehealth services.


“While telehealth use has skyrocketed these last few years, our laws have not kept up. Telehealth is helping people in every part of the country get the care they need, and it’s here to stay,” Sen. Schatz said in a statement. He said the bill would make it easier for more people to see their doctors no matter where they live.


“Telehealth is a revolutionary development in health care delivery. The internet put communications and commerce in the palm of our hand, and it is now doing the same for health care,” said Sen. Wicker.


The list of co-sponsoring senators indicates smooth sailing for the measure in the Senate.


The companion legislation introduced in the House also has bipartisan backing, with sponsors including Reps. Mike Thompson D-Calif., Doris Matsui D-Calif., David Schweikert R-Ariz., and Bill Johnson R-Ohio.