On Monday, President Donald Trump announced a major new executive order intended to bolster health care for rural Americans.
Additionally, Trump’s order will help boost the already exploding virtual segment of the health care industry.
The Executive Order
The areas covered by the order are: launching a new payment model to enable rural healthcare transformation, investments in physical and communications healthcare infrastructure, improving health for rural Americans, and expanding Medicare flexibility beyond the public health emergency.
With the ongoing fight to end Obamacare, Trump must have an alternative in place before dismantling Obama’s legacy legislation, and this new order is another step along the way. It follows several executive orders which Trump signed last month aimed at reducing prescription drug prices.
The big push
It is no coincidence that this order comes just months before the general election. Healthcare remains a hot debate topic, with many Democrats pushing for Medicare-for-All as well as health benefits for illegal immigrants.
Trump has vowed to have a completely new system ready to go as soon as Obamacare is dismantled to ensure nobody has a coverage gap, especially during the pandemic.
While it has taken nearly two years for the right pieces to fall into place, the administration now seems fairly confident that one of the biggest challenges — keeping rural hospitals and providers open — can now be done without problems.
The order also aims to expand access to telehealth, or virtual care. The practice has exploded during the pandemic, with both doctors and patients embracing the new format to the point that many patients prefer it over heading to the doctor’s office, regardless of being in a pandemic.
“Here to stay”
Virtual doctor visits offer a significant benefit to both the elderly and those who are rural or may not have transportation (or be able to afford taking taxi or ride service) to get to their doctor — a point not unnoticed by the Trump administration. “Today I’m taking action to make sure telehealth is here to stay,” Trump said Monday.
During the pandemic, it is estimated that more than one million patients saw their doctors in this manner, compared to only a few thousand before the pandemic.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Monday that the telehealth expansion will be a “tremendous boon” for Americans.
“We’ve been providing telehealth services at a rate and a speed during the pandemic … and the president wants to make that benefit permanent for Medicare recipients, and that’s going to be a tremendous boon for people living in rural areas but also for the entire country,” Verma said.