The practice of telemedicine surged at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic early last year, offering a way for doctors to still communicate with and treat their patients, especially in rural areas. But now, as a fourth surge of the virus continues, many states’ emergency waivers for telemedicine practice are expiring, leaving many rural patients risking a trip for an in-person visit.
Trisha Pasricha writes further in her article for The Washington Post: “…as the second summer of the pandemic wanes, state emergency orders that mandate coverage of telehealth visits and waive the requirement for out-of-state medical licenses are expiring. In their wake, more patients are discovering that telemedicine is no longer an option for them. With a fourth wave of coronavirus cases surging, the safety of in-person visits, especially for immunocompromised patients, remains a concern.”
With reimbursement an already complicated mess between states and practitioners, rural patients are caught between slow telemedicine adoption in their areas and Medicare not paying for phone and video visits after Oct. 18, 2021, when the federal public health emergency order lapses.