Orange County’s Michelle Steel Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Telehealth

By Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.
November 17, 2021 Updated: November 18, 2021

Orange County Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican, introduced a bill into the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 16 that seeks to increase access to long-distant patient care services for Americans.

When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law in March of 2020, it temporarily allowed Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to access telehealth services, a type of long-distance patient care over the phone or video chat, without needing to first meet their deductible. In addition, the provision allowed individuals to choose and purchase telehealth services outside of their health plan without impacting their eligibility for HSA services.

“Telehealth has been life-changing for so many, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Steel said in a statement. “Increased access to telehealth has benefited a wide range of Americans, from seniors to high-risk patients, to those in rural areas. Congress must act to ensure that the millions of Americans to who have utilized this provision do not lose their access to telemedicine.”

Steel’s bill, known as the Telehealth Expansion Act, a bipartisan bill co-authored with Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), would make the telehealth waiver of the CARES Act permanent, given that it’s currently set to end Dec. 31.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans were able to access health care through telehealth,” Lee said in a statement. “The pandemic pushed Congress to test out telehealth flexibilities that have proven to be effective in expanding access to quality, consistent, and affordable health care. However, these policies are set to expire. We can’t afford to take a step backwards when it comes to expanding access to health care. Instead, we should ensure Nevadans and Americans across the country have every tool to access the health care they need—and that’s just what this bill does.”

Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.