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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are considering extending the more flexible telehealth policies put in place during the pandemic for five months after the end of the formal public health emergency, according to draft text obtained by STAT.

The flexibilities, which have transformed the telehealth landscape, allow adults 65 and older to get coverage under Medicare for telehealth visits in their home, access telehealth even if they lived outside of a rural area, and get coverage for some audio-only services. Lawmakers are also set to delay a requirement that older adults see a provider in person within six months of a telehealth appointment for mental health services.


The text is not final, and could change as lawmakers scramble to finalize a bill to fund the federal government by a Friday deadline. Two sources familiar with the talks said the draft is credible. The extensions in the draft bill would only apply to Medicare patients, but private insurers often follow Medicare’s lead with coverage decisions.

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