To the Editor:
I am writing to urge that the telehealth bill be passed by our legislature during the upcoming special session. For most before COVID-19, doctor appointments were accessible and easily scheduled. However, in our new reality many of our most vulnerable citizens will have to jeopardize their safety to attain the baseline level of care.
For those in rural areas, it is even harder. Litchfield, Tolland, and Windham, three of Connecticut’s most rural counties, rank the lowest in patient-to-doctor ratios. Furthermore, 35% of survey respondents in Windham said that lack of transportation caused them to miss at least one healthcare appointment.
Fortunately, Governor Lamont’s executive order has jump-started the process for the legislature by expanding access to telehealth since early March. However, this order will expire in September, leaving many with little to no safe options for seeing their doctors.
It is imperative that our legislature institute a permanent, continued version of telehealth at least until June of 2021. Establishing widespread telehealth will not only take the burden off of those that are at risk for COVID, but also develop a much more accessible system for doctors as well.
While some procedures require being in-person, many are also transportable to a virtual platform, such as tele-dentistry consultations. Mental health services will also be covered, thanks to the 2019 Mental Health Parity Act, which ensures that mental health and physical health are treated equally by insurance companies.
With this new bill, doctors will be able to book their patients on a more flexible timeline while still delivering the same quality of care. Our loved ones should not have to risk their lives to go see their doctors. It is for this reason that our legislature must pass the telehealth bill during their special session.