White House Releases Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access

Posted 8/04/20 (Tue)

New Payment Model for Rural Health Care Transformation. The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to announce within 30 days of the executive order a new model to test innovative payment mechanisms “to ensure that rural health care providers are able to provide the necessary level and quality of care.” According to the order, the model would provide regulatory flexibility, establish predictable financial payments and encourage the movement to value-based care.

Investments in Rural Health Care Infrastructure. The order instructs the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, to develop and implement a strategy to improve rural health by “improving the physical and communications health care infrastructure available to rural Americans.”

Report on Policy Initiatives to Improve Rural Health. Within 30 days, the HHS Secretary must submit a report on existing and upcoming policy initiatives to:

  • increase rural access to health care by eliminating regulatory burdens that limit the availability of clinical professionals;
  • prevent disease and mortality by developing rural specific efforts to drive improved health outcomes;
  • reduce maternal mortality and morbidity; and
  • improve mental health in rural communities.

Expansion of Telehealth Flexibilities. The order directs the HHS Secretary to review within 60 days the following temporary measures put in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency:

  • the additional telehealth services offered to Medicare beneficiaries; and
  • the services, reporting, staffing and supervision flexibilities offered to Medicare providers in rural areas.

The order also instructs the HHS Secretary to propose regulation to extend these measures, as appropriate, beyond the public health emergency period.

Click here to read the official Executive Oder