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Keep moving forward on telehealth

The pandemic ushered in changes that enhanced patients’ access, convenience. The COVID-19 pandemic forced sweeping changes in how we work, with many workers doing their jobs remotely for much of the past year.

A swift though lesser-remarked-on transformation happened as well in medical

care. As lockdowns loomed, state and federal regulators eased restrictions on “telehealth.” That led to more virtual visits in Minnesota and elsewhere, with doctors and patients communicating via video or a phone call in lieu of a clinic appointment. A year later, there’s a timely debate at the Minnesota Capitol over whether to maintain telehealth expansion measures, which are set to expire 60 days after the end of the peacetime COVID emergency. The answer should be yes, let’s keep going. A dispute between two key health care stakeholders — providers and insurers — over payment levels for telehealth care shouldn’t derail

the legislation to do so.

Telehealth changes during the pandemic have provided convenient new options for patients. Previously, Minnesota patients may have had to drive to a clinic or hospital to use their telemedicine facilities. Now, they can connect from home using a personal device. Including mental health practitioners also is an advance.

Legislation to extend telehealth changes is enthusiastically backed by respected\ medical providers and organizations, including the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). If this yearlong experiment wasn’t going well, these organizations would be the first to sound the alarm.

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