WASHINGTON — As more veterans in rural Maine seek routine VA care online or by phone due to COVID-19, Maine’s congressional delegation wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today in an effort to improve telehealth services. In their letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) requested the VA provide them with information Congress can use to ensure that veterans receive the services they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The transition to telehealth is not an easy one, especially for veterans that prefer the close interaction with their doctor or health care provider. We are committed to help ensure that the VA receives the support it needs during this difficult time, so that our veterans receive the healthcare they require,” the delegation wrote.
Collins, King, Pingree, and Golden asked Secretary Wilkie a series of questions on the state of VA telehealth to help inform their work to improve telehealth for American veterans, including how the VA has expanded telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and what assistance Congress can provide to ensure timely and effective care for rural veterans.
Telehealth services help at risk groups, like older veterans, connect to their providers without risking exposure to COVID-19. They also allow rural veterans who live far away from VA providers to receive care without requiring them to travel, potentially decreasing unnecessary emergency department visits and avoiding hospital admissions.
Earlier this month, the delegation also pushed the VA Secretary, Secretary Robert Wilkie, to provide testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the VA Maine Healthcare System and its facilities, including nursing homes, across the state.
You can read the full letter here.