Urban and Hispanic Medicaid Beneficiaries More Likely to Use Telehealth During First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic 

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPTEMBER 7, 2022 – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and ATA Action issued the following statement in response to two new reports issued this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General, as part of a series that examines the use of telehealth in Medicare, including telehealth program integrity and the characteristics of beneficiaries who used telehealth during the pandemic.

“The Office of the Inspector General made yet another clear statement outlining the resounding success of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their report found that only a ‘very small proportion of providers’ billed Medicare inappropriately, indicating that the measures put in place to safeguard against fraud, waste, and abuse related to telehealth worked well to maintain program integrity,” said Kyle Zebley, senior vice president, public policy, the ATA, and executive director, ATA Action. “We are incredibly proud of how telehealth was able to respond during the pandemic and extremely pleased at another very positive report from OIG.”

A companion report from the OIG examined the characteristics of beneficiaries who used telehealth during the first year of the pandemic.

“The OIG report also found that more than 28 million Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth during the first year of the pandemic, representing a dramatic increase from previous years. And, as we focus on finding ways to solve for health disparities in our country, this report sheds important light on populations that were most likely to use telehealth, including beneficiaries in urban areas, Hispanic beneficiaries, younger beneficiaries and female beneficiaries. The OIG report also found that older beneficiaries were more likely to use these audio-only telehealth services,” Zebley added. “The ATA, ATA Action and our members stand ready to work with the Office of the Inspector General to incorporate appropriate oversights and safeguards to maintain telehealth program integrity while ensuring continued and uninterrupted access to lifesaving virtual care services for our Medicare beneficiaries.”

About ATA Action
ATA Action recognizes that telehealth and virtual care have the potential to transform the healthcare delivery system by improving patient outcomes, enhancing the safety and effectiveness of care, addressing health disparities, and reducing costs. ATA Action is a registered 501c6 company and an affiliated trade organization of the ATA.

About the ATA
As the only organization completely focused on advancing telehealth, the American Telemedicine Association is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and appropriate care when and where they need it, enabling the system to do more good for more people. The ATA represents a broad and inclusive member network of leading healthcare delivery systems, academic institutions, technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models. 

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