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White House Removes Telehealth Regulations to Help Fight Coronavirus

By Mark Prvulovic - Mar 18, 2020 at 6:24PM

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Previously restrictive telehealth rules are being waived in light of the pandemic.

As the U.S. healthcare systems braces for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients, the Trump administration has been a vocal proponent of telehealth services. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced that it would be expanding telehealth access by waiving certain requirements.

This would allow Americans with Medicare to use telehealth services even if they are not in a rural community, which was one of the only situations in which telehealth services were covered. In addition to doctors and nurses, other healthcare providers, including psychologists and social workers, will also be able to provide virtual healthcare services to those with Medicare.

A doctor providing a medical consultation online via his laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

President Trump declared a state of national emergency over COVID-19 earlier this month, allowing him to invoke a number of emergency measures such as the National Emergencies Act and the Stafford Act. In addition to expanding the power of state and municipal authorities to combat COVID-19, Trump specifically mentioned the importance of telehealth services in helping combat the spread of the virus.

Telehealth stocks are surging

While most companies have seen their share prices tumble over the past few weeks, telehealth companies are among the few businesses that have seen their stock prices rise. Teladoc (TDOC 0.53%), one of the leading telehealth service providers in the country, is up around 16% over the past month whereas the Dow Jones is down around 33%.

Teladoc recently reported that the number of daily patient visits shot up by 50% week over week, spurred largely by COVID-19 related demand. The company has confirmed that it's receiving as many as 15,000 requested appointments daily.

Mark Prvulovic has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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