The Critical Need for Digital Access and Telehealth

Concurrent Session Block 4: 1:15 – 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday, September 17


Telehealth in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the value of telehealth as a public health measure by permitting health care at a distance, keeping providers and patients safe while enabling healthcare in strained health systems. The federal government has enacted three new pieces of legislation relating to telehealth in response to Covid-19. These new federal laws provide additional funding and regulatory flexibility to states for telehealth under the Medicare and TRICARE programs. This session will explore how states have acted through legislative, regulatory and executive actions to leverage telehealth in the Covid-19 response.

  • Cason D. Schmit, J.D.

COVID-19 Illuminates Need to Close the Digital Divide
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for internet connectedness – school and work closures and social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 require individuals to rely even more heavily on internet and phone access to meaningfully participate in telehealth programs, distance learning, and job opportunities. Yet, there remains a large digital divide in the United States, with many households lacking access to reliable broadband services. This digital divide has long been a factor limiting the achievement of public health goals for individuals that lack essential broadband infrastructure and COVID-19 response efforts have further limited internet access for those that rely on public internet access points such as public libraries. This session will explore law and policy opportunities to reduce the digital divide and the resulting public health consequences flowing from the digital divide.

  • Betsy Lawton, Senior Staff Attorney, Network for Public Health Law, Northern Region Office