Trump signs executive order to expand telehealth, boost rural health care
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order expanding access to telehealth services for 57 million Americans in under-served rural areas and elsewhere, after virtual visits soared during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, who is counting on votes from backers in rural areas in the 2020 presidential election, said the new order would ensure that telehealth services expanded during the pandemic remained in place even after the public health emergency ended.
He also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to cut regulatory burdens and develop a new payment model that allows rural providers to waive some existing Medicare rules and ensure more predictable financial payments.
Americans in rural areas are more likely to die of five leading causes of death such as cancer and heart disease than their urban counterparts, the White House said, with transportation challenges, shortages of healthcare workers and a dwindling number of hospitals diminishing access to good care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed that virtual visits by phone or video soared to almost 1.7 million per week in the last week of April from 14,000 before the pandemic, according to the executive order.