HAP's Latest News

Pa. Lawmakers Advance Telehealth Bill, Top Health Nominees

June 27, 2023

State senators today advanced legislation that will improve access to telehealth, while forwarding Governor Shapiro’s top health agency nominees for additional consideration.

This morning, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee advanced Senate Bill 739. The legislation, sponsored by Elder A. Vogel Jr. (R-Beaver), would:

  • Assure that insurers cannot deny payment for care simply because it is delivered via telemedicine
  • Ensure greater access to primary and specialty care, particularly for those who are isolated, older, or without transportation
  • Help patients manage chronic conditions and avoid hospital admissions or readmissions
  • Support schools to address physical and behavioral health issues
  • Aid caregivers of seniors or seriously ill patients
  • Align with CMS’ position that more must be done to expand payment for telemedicine services

Last week, HAP sent a letter to the committee calling on lawmakers to advance the bill. The letter noted the ways the pandemic spurred innovation, quality, and demand for telehealth services, particularly in rural and other underserved communities that would otherwise struggle to access specialty care.

“Pennsylvania’s hospitals are committed to providing the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time,” the HAP letter noted. “For thousands of Pennsylvanians, this means being able to choose high-quality primary, specialty, and follow-up care via telemedicine.”

The legislation moves to the full Senate for consideration.

In addition, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported Governor Shapiro’s nominees for two state agencies to the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee for consideration. They are:

  • Secretary of Human Services: Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, who most recently served as the chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners and as a former chair of the anesthesiology department at the Drexel University College of Medicine.
  • Secretary of Health: Dr. Debra Bogen, the former director of the Allegheny County Health Department and a former vice chair of education for the department of pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

During the hearing, the nominees answered a variety of questions related to access to care, maternal health, and hospital regulations, among other issues.

For more information about HAP’s state advocacy initiatives, contact Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy.