COVID-19 shows we should deregulate telehealth—and much more

By Wayne Winegarden, Pacific Research Institute  ·  Jul 27, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has tested America’s health care system like no other event in recent memory.   

One irony during this pandemic is that America has actually experienced the promise of health care innovation in an important way, namely through telehealth.   

Telehealth allows patients to talk with their doctors online using videoconferencing platforms. Doctors can see patients, discuss their symptoms, order tests, and even prescribe medication.

Earlier this spring, as the coronavirus was becoming a serious problem across the country, Congress temporarily suspended regulations that restricted health care services from being provided virtually. Some of the relaxed regulations included setting aside Medicare’s prohibition on the types of services offered through telehealth. Another regulation required parity in payments between in-person and virtual doctor visits. There was also a prohibition on doctors who were licensed to practice medicine in one state from seeing patients virtually in other states unless they also had a license to practice there. These temporary reforms have enabled medical offices to offer patients unprecedented access to telehealth services.

Read more about why temporary medical reforms should become permanent.