Carper, Cornyn Bill Helps States Expand Telehealth Access for Medicaid, CHIP Enrollees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), both members of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced legislation that would help states expand telehealth options for low-income Americans, especially children. The Telehealth Improvement for Kids’ Essential Services (TIKES) Act of 2021 would provide guidance and strategies to states on how to effectively integrate telehealth into their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs, and research how telehealth expansion can impact health care access, utilization, cost, and outcomes.

“Telehealth services have allowed many Americans to receive timely, safe medical care from the comfort of their homes during this pandemic, but not all patients have had adequate access to this form of care,” said Carper. “In particular, many lower-income families with children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP face significant financial barriers that make this technology largely out of reach. This legislation would improve health outcomes and reduce costs by providing states with guidance to help fix this disparity, while helping the federal government learn more about telehealth’s potential to expand health care options for lower-income Americans. I want to thanks Senator Cornyn for his partnership on this timely legislation.”

“Texans want telehealth as an option for their children’s care beyond the pandemic, and it is especially vital for those living in rural areas or dealing with financial hardship,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would help make telehealth available to more Texas families and increase access to quality healthcare for kids.”

The TIKES Act has earned support from a variety of patient and healthcare groups, including Nemours Children’s Health System, Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Oncology Nursing Society.

“I commend the leadership of Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, Congressman Burgess, and Senators Carper and Cornyn, in advancing this important legislation and continuing to champion telehealth. For Nemours and other health systems, telehealth continues to provide access to high-quality, efficient care to millions of American children. The public health challenge of COVID-19 highlighted its effectiveness and proved its value as a permanent part of the US healthcare system,” said R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, President and CEO of Nemours Children’s Health System.

“After more than a year fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever to achieve long-term solutions to reduce barriers to safe and reliable care via telehealth. Introduction of the TIKES Act is an important step forward,” said Carey Officer, Vice President of Service Delivery Innovation at Nemours Center for Health Delivery Innovation (CHDI).

More detail on the TIKES Act of 2021:

The TIKES Act would provide guidance and strategies to states on how to effectively integrate telehealth into their Medicaid and CHIP programs and take a comprehensive look at how telehealth impacts health care access, utilization, cost, and outcomes. Furthermore, the bill promotes greater coordination among federal agency telehealth programs and policies for more efficient use of resources.

Specifically, the TIKES Act will:

  • Provide states with guidance and strategies to increase telehealth access for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) populations
  • Require a GAO study examining data and information on the impact of telehealth on the Medicaid population
  • Require a GAO study reviewing coordination among federal agency telehealth policies and examine opportunities for better collaboration, as well as opportunities for telehealth expansion into early care and education settings

The full bill text can be found here, and a one pager on the legislation can be accessed here.