Child Advocates Press for Better Telehealth Program as Legislature Reconvenes

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Telehealth is expanding rapidly during the pandemic and may remain popular as the nation recovers. Photo Credit:

 SACRAMENO, Calif. — The Legislature reconvenes this week, and children’s advocates are speaking out in favor of a bill to facilitate telehealth during the COVID-19 recovery.

AB 2007 would continue a federal policy instituted in response to the pandemic that lifted some restrictions limiting community clinics’ efforts to offer medical appointments via phone or videoconference. Mayra Alvarez, president of the Children’s Partnership, said telehealth will allow more people to be treated.

“By putting that in place, these necessary flexibilities, we can ensure that more families have access to the care that they need, when they need it,” Alvarez said.

She noted that virtual medical appointments can address barriers to care, drawing in people who live in rural areas, have limited access to transportation or who can’t take time off of work. The State Assembly reconvenes Monday, and the state Senate will hold a special COVID-related session on Wednesday.

Alvarez also has urged lawmakers to implement AB 2315, which would improve telehealth in schools, so mental-health issues can be more readily addressed once schools reopen.

“The social-emotional impacts of not being at school every day, of not interacting with friends, of being worried about your parents if they are essential workers – this is going to be an ongoing crisis for us,” she said.

The bill requires state agencies to develop guidelines around telehealth for schools. It passed in 2018 but has not been fully funded.