January 26, 2021

Cortez Masto, Scott Introduce Bill to Ease Access to Telehealth Services

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will introduce bipartisan legislation, the Ensuring Parity in Medicare Advantage for Audio-Only Telehealth Act of 2021, to facilitate Medicare Advantage enrollees’ access to telehealth during the pandemic, even if they can only make an audio connection to providers.                              

“Many of Nevada’s seniors have been following guidance to rely on telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “They should not be penalized if, as in many cases, their access to video services is limited, either by the availability of broadband in their area or by their budgets. I’m glad to support this bipartisan bill that will modernize the payment rules and make sure Nevadans can get the care they need safely.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the necessity of modernizing our telehealth laws to reflect the real challenges we face with technology and medicine,” said Senator Scott. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that Medicare payments will cover virtual consultations, which are key to slowing the spread and treating millions of seniors, especially those in low income and rural areas. Updating our laws is a commonsense and practical approach to making sure we do everything we can to combat the pandemic.”


Senator Cortez Masto first introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress. The Ensuring Parity in Medicare Advantage for Audio-Only Telehealth Act would require the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to consider diagnoses from audio-only telehealth visits for risk adjustment payments in Medicare Advantage plans to ensure that they are reimbursed as if they were in-person visits during the COVID-19 emergency, unless both parties have agreed to a separate payment policy.