Act now to build on painful lessons learned during the pandemic

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, Act now to build on painful lessons learned during the pandemic

On this social-media age, consideration spans are quick. Even with an occasion as devastating as COVID-19, reminiscences fade and our consideration strikes rapidly to the following disaster. That makes it crucial that Congress act this 12 months, whereas we’ve got our eye on the ball, to make the most of crucial classes discovered to date throughout this pandemic.

Make telehealth adjustments everlasting. The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled the business and federal and state governments to cram 10 years’ price of telehealth expertise into just a few months, leading to one of the vital dramatic developments ever within the supply of medical providers.

I just lately heard from a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Nashville who has been seeing sufferers just about in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic utilizing telehealth. She informed me about an aged affected person who, earlier than COVID, acquired to her medical appointments by strolling from her residence to catch a bus after which strolling from the bus cease to the clinic.

When the affected person arrived on the clinic she needed to look ahead to her appointment, and when the go to was over, she needed to take all of those steps in reverse. Due to telehealth, this nurse stated her affected person was in tears of appreciation as a result of now she might have appointments with out leaving dwelling.


When the affected person arrived on the clinic she needed to look ahead to her appointment, and when the go to was over, she needed to take all of those steps in reverse. Due to telehealth, this nurse stated her affected person was in tears of appreciation as a result of now she might have appointments with out leaving dwelling.

In 2016, there have been virtually 884 million visits nationwide between sufferers and physicians, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

The CEO of Ascension St. Thomas Well being—which has 9 hospitals in center Tennessee and employs over 800 physicians—just lately predicted to me that 15% to 20% of the system’s visits between sufferers and physicians will probably be carried out via telehealth sooner or later. If that holds true throughout the nation due to telehealth growth throughout COVID-19, it might yearly produce a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of recent telehealth visits.

Congress and the Trump administration reacted to the pandemic by making a regulatory surroundings that made the present telehealth increase doable by permitting, amongst different flexibilities: in-home digital visits; telehealth for sufferers in rural areas; telehealth from bodily therapists, speech language pathologists and different suppliers; telehealth for a lot of extra providers together with emergency division visits; and permitting Medicare hospice and residential dialysis sufferers to start out their care with a digital go to.

We have to make these extraordinary features everlasting.

Making ready for future pandemics. We should additionally use this time to take the required steps to arrange our nation for the following public well being disaster. Laws I’ve launched takes steps to arrange us for the inevitable subsequent menace by boosting the nation’s response capability in three fundamental areas:

  • Onshore manufacturing: New sustained funding—$5 billion over 10 years—to take care of ample manufacturing for exams, therapies and vaccines in order that when a brand new virus emerges, the U.S. has amenities able to manufacture these merchandise as rapidly as doable.
  • State stockpiles: New sustained funding—$10 billion over 10 years—so states can create and keep their very own stockpiles of provides akin to masks and ventilators with assist from the federal authorities.
  • Federal stockpiles: We should enhance the federal Strategic Nationwide Stockpile by permitting the federal authorities to work with corporations to take care of further provides and manufacturing capability.

There’s additionally broad settlement about further steps Congress must take. These embrace bettering illness surveillance, enhancing coordination of pandemic response, and restoring help for our state and public well being methods, which former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt describes as being badly underfunded for the final 30 to 40 years.

Congress ought to take all of those steps now to make everlasting the extraordinary progress we’ve got made in such a short while on telehealth, to maintain vaccine manufacturing on our shores and to take care of our stockpiles. We will’t afford to lose our focus.

The 116th Congress: Policymaking Amid the Pandemic


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