Sinema’s New Bipartisan Bill Increases Telehealth Services for Arizona Veterans

May 7, 2020

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the bipartisan VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act with Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and Joni Ernst. Their bipartisan bill allows Department of Veterans Affairs health trainees to train on and utilize the VA telehealth system. During the coronavirus pandemic, many non-emergency medical services are now being conducted via telehealth. Increasing access to telehealth for Arizona veterans will reduce the spread of the coronavirus and help save lives.
“Increasing telehealth access for Arizona veterans will help keep them safe during the coronavirus pandemic and make health care more accessible today and into the future,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Sinema’s VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act corrects an oversight in the MISSION Act by allowing VA health professional trainees to train on and utilize the VA telehealth system, with appropriate supervision. The MISSION Act allowed VA covered practitioners to provide care via telehealth across state lines, but did not extend this to allow residents, interns, or fellows to provide such care.
Following recent calls from Sinema, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) agreed to expand coverage of telehealth services for Arizona seniors and critical behavioral health care organizations. Previously, video-telehealth medical services were covered under Medicare, but many audio-telehealth services were not. Sinema called on CMS to close that gap so all Arizona seniors have access to health services during the coronavirus outbreak. 
Sinema also recently pressed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure veterans and Arizonans with disabilities getting compensation and pension benefits or SupplementalSecurity Income (SSI) receive rebate checks without having to file 2019 tax returns if their income falls below the federal threshold for filing.
Sinema has also added a resources page to her website, with specific resources for Arizona veterans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.