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SHRM Asks Members to Urge Congress to Permanently Extend Telehealth Services

doctor at a laptop conducting virtual care

SHRM is advocating a bill that would permanently extend pre-deductible coverage of telehealth services for workers with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts—and is urging members to support it, too.

The Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023, H.R. 1843, would “ensure employers retain a valuable benefit design tool that helps to bridge the gap in access to care and protects employees from losing pre-deductible flexible coverage,” SHRM said in an advocacy alert. Pre-deductible coverage, also known as first-dollar coverage, helps employees access telehealth services by allowing health insurance providers to cover telehealth services without requiring the plan participant to first pay their copay or deductible, minimizing out-of-pocket costs for workers, SHRM explained.

The coverage is set to expire at the end of 2024. The telehealth relief services were originally a provision in the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It was renewed in the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and again extended in December 2022.

The Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023 passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means last year, but it has not been scheduled for a House floor vote.

SHRM is urging members to contact their senators and representatives in Congress in support of the legislation and offers an email with text available for members to send out. “Hopefully, through our grassroots engagement, this may spur Congress to act. No action has occurred in the Senate,” SHRM said.

SHRM previously advocated the issue in 2022, garnering nearly 1,500 letters to Congress that SHRM said were “instrumental to helping secure a temporary extension of these benefits through the end of 2024.”

SHRM argued that the legislation’s permanent extension of pre-deductible coverage for HDHPs will offer employees needed flexibility and ensure they have access to critical health care, including mental health services.

Telehealth has grown rapidly in the past several years, especially due to the pandemic. In 2023, 9 in 10 employers offered telemedicine or telehealth benefits, according to the SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, up 20% from 2019.


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