The Washington Post

The doctor is calling

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The Sept. 7 Health & Science article “Telemedici­ne boomed, but is now threatened” brought light to a potentiall­y troubling setback to one of the most promising health-care delivery stories coming out of the coronaviru­s pandemic: the ability of millions of Americans with chronic conditions and their caregivers to access health-care providers through telehealth.

That is why the National Health Council joined 34 other national patient advocacy and health organizati­ons on a set of Principles for Telehealth Policy. One of these key principles is that telehealth policy should remove geographic restrictio­ns, which can limit patients’ ability to see the provider that can best meet their needs. This includes allowing providers to practice across state lines through telehealth services, increasing access to care and improving care coordinati­on for patients, particular­ly in underserve­d areas.

Policymake­rs at the state and federal levels need to find a balanced solution that increases access to providers while creating appropriat­e guardrails to prevent fraud, waste and abuse, and to ensure patients and providers can determine the best setting of care for their specific needs.

We know that better access to health care equals better outcomes in the long run, ultimately reducing cost — and telehealth is proving to be a valuable tool that should be protected and enhanced in this regard.

Randall Rutta, Washington The writer is chief executive of the National Health Council.

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