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It will likely take donations to help the Twin Cities recover from damage by looters; and state and local governments look for relief in next stimulus bill.

2020Talks - June 5, 2020 


Democrats and Republicans have had drastically different responses to President Trump's militarized response to protests in the nation's capital. And, new electoral maps will be drawn next year, some by legislatures and others by outside entities.

Medicare Telehealth Expansion Vital in COVID-19 Outbreak

Millions of older Americans who receive Medicare can now access telemedicine services, even if they're not living in rural areas. (Adobe Stock)
Millions of older Americans who receive Medicare can now access telemedicine services, even if they're not living in rural areas. (Adobe Stock)
March 20, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With West Virginia reporting its first case of exposure to the new coronavirus this week, the use of telemedicine could be vital to keeping the state's older residents safe.

Stephen Davis, associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, is conducting a pilot program on telemedicine in the Mountain State. He says the Trump administration's expansion of telehealth for Medicare patients will help the state prevent high-risk individuals from being exposed to the virus in health-care environments.

"Telehealth will enable us to be able to deliver some type of health care without having to have some type of interaction with healthcare workers that, sadly, may be infected or become infected themselves," says Davis.

The new coronavirus seems to be hitting seniors especially hard. Davis says telehealth is crucial for West Virginia's aging population.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the number of West Virginians age 60 and over will increase 32% in the next 10 years.

Trump's announcement opens the telehealth doors to tens of millions of new Medicare patients, many in remote areas. Davis' pilot is measuring the effectiveness of telehealth in rural West Virginia.

He points out that previously, the federal government had regional restrictions on reimbursements for Medicare remote services.

"Certainly at the federal level with Medicare, historically there were restrictions with regard to you had to be located in a very rural area," says Davis. "And so, this was a significant barrier, historically, to being able to more broadly offer telehealth services."

The administration is also encouraging states to expand the use of telehealth in their Medicaid programs for lower-income people.

More than 40 million people are enrolled in Medicare, some 15% of the U.S. population.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV