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President Trump expands telehealth service coverage for Medicare recipients

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by members of the Coronavirus Task Force, speaks about the coronavirus in the press briefing room at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trump administration is considering an $850 billion stimulus package to counter the economic fallout as the coronavirus spreads. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is taking another step to combat the coronavirus.

“Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or video conference at no additional cost,” the president said.

The Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services are now expanding coverage of telehealth services.

“In addition, states have the authority to cover telehealth services for their medical patients,” the president said.

The goal is to help more than 60 million Medicare recipients throughout the country. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma says it can make patient care more convenient.

“They don’t need to travel, they don’t need to sit in a waiting room where they can be potentially exposed to other people, so this mitigates them having to leave their homes,” Verma said.

Increased use of telehealth is also expected to help address the country’s shortage of some medical supplies, like N95 face masks.

“We’re trying to conserve our protective equipment for our healthcare workers and so this means that there’s less people coming in. They can conserve more of their equipment,” Verma said.

Not everyone may have access to telehealth, so Verma says it’s important to help one another.

“Work with your family. Neighbors and friends should help those elderly patients use that technology,” Verma said.

With assistance now available for Medicare users, the administration wants governors to take action to make telehealth available to Medicaid recipients at the state level.

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