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Public Policy Meeting: “VA Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Background and the Purpose

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is at the forefront of innovations concerning telehealth to ensure every veteran has access to healthcare from wherever they are. Services of telehealth are changing the way veterans can receive quality healthcare which VA provides. VA, through its healthcare team, ensures that veterans receive high-quality care from hospitals, clinics, or at home. For this reason, the “VA Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Expansion and Impact” occurred in June 2020. With the emergence of COVID-19, there have been major challenges to providing healthcare (Dhopeshwarkar et al., 2020). In the course of the pandemic, there have been several hospital cancelations that limit the provision of healthcare. As a result, the purpose of the meeting was to examine key agendas on how the VA utilized telehealth to fill the cancellation gap. Furthermore, the meeting aimed at finding out how the VA has leveraged telehealth to help veterans in rural areas who may not have access to crucial care services.

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Key Participants

To ensure that the meeting was a success, there were a few key participants. Chairwoman Susie Lee was present to lead the meeting. Mr. Jim Banks was a Ranking Member at the subcommittee. The other important member was Chairwoman Julia Brownley. The meeting further included Ranking Member Dr. Neal Dunn and other subcommittee members.

Meeting Logistics

For the meeting to happen, some members had to congregate in Washington DC. However, they were few due to COVID-19 restrictions. Thus, those who were present in the hall had to observe social distancing. Additionally, some members attended the meeting over video conference platforms with strict rules. However, at the beginning of the meeting, Charwoman Lee pointed out that the VA had submitted critical information late and gave them very little time to prepare. Moreover, Charwoman Lee was disappointed by the initial logistics of the meeting, which suggested that every member should meet in one room. As a result, they had to decline the initial logistics and adopt a new plan that stuck to COVID-19 restrictions.


Telehealth support was one of the key agenda items discussed in the meeting. The session examines the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) and its continuous support for telehealth over the years. The expansion of telehealth has taken place and is to be developed and founded on significant and actual technologies, as well as on relationships within the scientific community, a great contribution to which was made by VMF. This implies the utilization of approved technological infrastructure and guarantees that prior relations are established between the patients and providers. It should be noted that a number of obstacles related to the theme were also explored. Among them are technological issues, lack of digital literacy and competent employees, and the necessity of training within the scope of the sphere. The committee process was relatively simple but considerably efficient. The first phase was the reports of the members of recognized organizations in this area. Then, experts expressed their opinions on these reports and came up with questions. After each question was addressed, there was a transition from one crucial agenda item to another. In the end, chairwoman Susie Lee summarized the outcomes of the meeting.

Key Stakeholder Positions

According to the committee members, the VFW has, for a long time, supported the expansion of telehealth as a mode of effectively connecting veterans to vital healthcare services they require (House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 2020). The subcommittee especially points out its important role in ensuring veterans living in rural areas have access to mental health facilities. The VFW was responded to initial research touching on how telehealth services could help veteran soldiers with brain wellness issues. These issues included veterans with PTSD, depression, and anxiety and had challenges accessing VA care facilities.

The meeting acknowledges Congress for moving VA ahead in utilizing telehealth as a means of changing veteran care delivery. The VA Mission Act of 2018 played a key role in enabling VA care professionals to access every location in the United States (House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 2020). Famously referred to as the “anywhere to anywhere” strategy, veterans currently have a spectrum of care coming from medical practitioners they trust. Nevertheless, it was claimed there is still more work to be done. According to the meeting, telehealth options reduce sexual abuse or harassment when veterans undertake the medication through the VA centers (House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 2020). Additionally, through telehealth, veterans do not have to wait or travel to receive care, thereby eliminating geographical limitations.

Key Interactions and Outcomes


The participants discuss that VFW through VA utilizes advancing telehealth through local access stations to take advantage of the VA Mission Act of 2018 to increase options for veterans with difficulties of accessing care (House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 2020). The subcommittee explains that there is the identification of several VFW sites that can be used as telehealth centers. In this instance, the subcommittee identifies specific areas such as Eureka and Montana, which have difficulties in accessing VA care. The members of the meeting argue that the VA is currently working on a plan to ensure these areas can access healthcare easily.

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The other rule that the committee wants Congress to include is HR 3228, which clarifies the supervision of professional trainers. The following issue was raised – many care trainees desire to find employment under the largest healthcare system. It was claimed that in this situation, VA plays a significant role in providing the best training programs that utilize innovative and cutting-edge technology. Currently, indeed, the law only covers students, internships, and residencies; however, it does not specify that trainees should be under health professional supervision (Dhopeshwarkar et al., 2020). Including this bill would ensure that this is clarified and, as a result, produce skilled professionals that can provide quality care to veterans.

The representatives of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy (TTP) took part in the meeting as well. MedPAC discusses the possibilities of maintaining regulative and payment programs for expanding telehealth (Austin & Wetle, 2017). One notable interaction in the meeting was its proposal on monitoring telehealth services to avoid overuse, abuse and fraud. The TTP, on the other hand, proposes new innovations for improving telehealth (Austin & Wetle, 2017). In the subcommittee, TTP’s recommendations included finding the impact of telehealth on care cost, improving dataflow and enhancing the integrity of patient safety.

Outcomes Including the Specific Topic Focus

Since the “anywhere to anywhere” rule implementation, there was the expansion of VA telehealth services to provide veterans with healthcare practitioners. The role of the VA is to provide healthcare services in clinics, hospitals, and at home. The technology the VA uses includes remoter monitoring and personal visits to assess such issues as weight, glucose levels, and blood pressure. By doing so, VA has reached thousands of veterans within the United States. For many years, VA has been providing healthcare to veterans. However, due to the pandemic, the institution has been dealing with a lot of challenges. Despite these difficulties, the outcome of the meeting was a unanimous decision to support VA According to the subcommittee; many individuals are satisfied with VA handling their issues through telehealth (House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 2020). As a consequence, members would be pleased to see VA utilizing the telehealth tool to provide care to veterans.


Austin, A., & Wetle, V. (2017). The United States health care system: Combining business, health, and delivery (2nd ed.). Pearson Higher.

Dhopeshwarkar, R., Hovey, L., Lama, S., Chiao, A., Moiduddin, A., & Dullabh, P. (2020). Changes to telehealth policy, delivery, and outcomes in response to COVID-19. [PDF document].

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. (2020). Subcommittee on health and technology modernization joint hearing: VA telehealth during COVID-19 [Video]. YouTube.

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