Statement on Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access from ASN President Anupam Agarwal MD, FASN

By Anupam Agarwal MD, FASN - President of the American Society of Nephrology

August 5, 2020

www.asn-online.org_0.jpgThe American Society of Nephrology’s (ASN) 21,000 members, who care for 37,000,000 Americans with kidney diseases, applaud the Trump Administration for issuing the Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access on August 3, 2020. The Executive Order (EO) aims to increase access to better care for the approximately 57,000,000 Americans living in rural communities. The millions of Americans battling kidney diseases in rural communities are all too familiar with reduced access to quality care and insufficient bandwidth to support robust telehealth.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), we have seen dramatic increases in telehealth usage across the country. As the EO states, “the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed a weekly jump in virtual visits for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiaries, from approximately 14,000 pre-PHE to almost 1.7 million in the last week of April.” At the same time, the government’s own data shows that kidney patients are 2.5 times more likely to die after being hospitalized with COVID-19 than the other hospitalized COVID-19 patients. For this reason, ASN asked for, and CMS provided, a broad range of flexibilities to allow telehealth for these extremely vulnerable individuals—especially those who have advanced to kidney failure and who must receive dialysis care or a kidney transplant to live.

ASN was pleased to learn that the EO directs the HHS Secretary to review the telehealth waivers put in place during the PHE and to “propose a regulation to extend these measures, as appropriate, beyond the duration of the PHE.” In addition, ASN has supported prior efforts to overcome telehealth and broadband challenges in rural communities. For example, the society supports the call for the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture to work with the Federal Communications Commission and other executive departments and agencies to “develop and implement a strategy to improve rural health by improving the physical and communications healthcare infrastructure available to rural Americans.”

As we move forward with efforts to fulfill federal policy on advancing American kidney health, ASN welcomes this complementary EO to support equitable access to high-quality care for all Americans.

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Author:
Anupam Agarwal MD, FASN - President of the American Society of Nephrology
Body:

www.asn-online.org_0.jpgThe American Society of Nephrology’s (ASN) 21,000 members, who care for 37,000,000 Americans with kidney diseases, applaud the Trump Administration for issuing the Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access on August 3, 2020. The Executive Order (EO) aims to increase access to better care for the approximately 57,000,000 Americans living in rural communities. The millions of Americans battling kidney diseases in rural communities are all too familiar with reduced access to quality care and insufficient bandwidth to support robust telehealth.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), we have seen dramatic increases in telehealth usage across the country. As the EO states, “the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed a weekly jump in virtual visits for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiaries, from approximately 14,000 pre-PHE to almost 1.7 million in the last week of April.” At the same time, the government’s own data shows that kidney patients are 2.5 times more likely to die after being hospitalized with COVID-19 than the other hospitalized COVID-19 patients. For this reason, ASN asked for, and CMS provided, a broad range of flexibilities to allow telehealth for these extremely vulnerable individuals—especially those who have advanced to kidney failure and who must receive dialysis care or a kidney transplant to live.

ASN was pleased to learn that the EO directs the HHS Secretary to review the telehealth waivers put in place during the PHE and to “propose a regulation to extend these measures, as appropriate, beyond the duration of the PHE.” In addition, ASN has supported prior efforts to overcome telehealth and broadband challenges in rural communities. For example, the society supports the call for the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture to work with the Federal Communications Commission and other executive departments and agencies to “develop and implement a strategy to improve rural health by improving the physical and communications healthcare infrastructure available to rural Americans.”

As we move forward with efforts to fulfill federal policy on advancing American kidney health, ASN welcomes this complementary EO to support equitable access to high-quality care for all Americans.

Date:
Wednesday, August 5, 2020