By: Editorial Staff, Date: February 1st, 2021

On January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden was sworn into office, becoming the 46th president of the United States. With a new administration in the White House, a number of changes are on the horizon – including changes to how our country approaches the promising solutions offered by telehealth. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to swell, telehealth offers patients the ability to access healthcare services without having to visit a clinic and potentially expose themselves to the virus. If done right, telehealth also has the potential to break down many of the barriers associated with receiving medical attention and improve the lives of impoverished and underprivileged communities. 

While both Biden and the 116th Congress have signaled their approval of telehealth reform, there have thus far been few specifics provided as to what exactly that reform will look like – and there are a number of challenges that must be overcome. Chief among these challenges is the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has consistently evaluated telehealth legislation as an especially expensive agenda. At a time when the national budget is incredibly strained and there is already a wide range of costly items on the new administration’s wish list, significant telehealth reform is a tall order. Lawmakers working on telehealth legislation also must grapple with creating laws that will ensure telehealth services are both affordable and effective for the patients who are paying for them. 

In spite of these challenges, however, most analysts agree that the future of telehealth under the Biden administration is bright and that telehealth is sure to be a primary focus as the new Congress and White House seek broad reforms of healthcare in the United States. If lawmakers are able to overcome the various obstacles associated with expanding telehealth, the numerous benefits that telehealth provides may be able to reshape how underserved communities in the United States receive healthcare as well as help the country better contend with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The HIPAA Privacy Rule and COVID-19: Trends, Developments, and Compliance Issues in the Current Pandemic

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for health care providers and their business associates. This public health emergency has changed the way health care providers operate and deliver health care, including the increasing reliance on telehealth. Privacy officers for covered entities and their business associates need to keep abreast of notices and guidances issued by Department of Health and Human Services regarding compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) during this public health emergency.