Roll Call: COVID aid fuels telehealth expansion in rural America

EXCERPT: “‘Can you lift your arms?’ physician Luke Van Oeveren asked. An elderly woman stared blankly at him from the back of an ambulance, where she sat strapped onto a stretcher. After a moment, she complied, but when Van Oeveren added another instruction to the cognition test, she became confused. ‘Close your eyes and lift your arms up,’ he said. The two EMTs by her side repeated the request, lifting their arms and closing their eyes in demonstration. The patient smiled, but could not follow the instructions. The woman had just had a stroke in rural Minnesota. But Van Oeveren was evaluating her by video from the next state over, in Sioux Falls, S.D., where telehealth company Avel eCare operates its emergency response hub. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a shift to telehealth as doctors and hospitals limited in-person care and as Congress flooded the country with trillions in federal aid. But lingering questions about cost, quality and access have stalled broader adoption, with lawmakers hesitant to approve a permanent expansion of telehealth coverage under Medicare. ” FULL STORY: