ADEA State Update

State Legislatures Turn Attention to Telehealth

(State Policy) Permanent link   All Posts

As states face health care services shortages, state legislature are turning to telehealth to help alleviate the problem. The most common telehealth policies that arise include establishing the definition and scope of telehealth practice allowed in the state and providing for parity in health insurance coverage, requiring insurers to provide equal coverage to telehealth visits as if the service had been provided in person.

Five states passed legislation related to telehealth issues:

  • Arizona SB 1282, an omnibus dentistry bill, was signed by the governor. It specifically defines “teledentistry” as well as the scope of teledentistry practice. Further, it provides for insurance coverage of teledentistry. The bill also expanded the role of dental assistants and clarified affiliated practice regulations.
  • Arkansas Act 887 was signed by the governor on April 2, 2015. It encourages the use of telemedicine and directs state licensing boards to allow health care professionals to engage in telemedicine. Further, it requires health plans to cover telemedicine services on the same basis as in-person services.
  • Colorado HB15-1029 was signed by the governor. It requires health insurers to cover telemedicine similarly to in-person services.
  • Tennessee governor signed HB 0699 on April 24, 2015. The measure defines the scope of telemedicine practice. It also disallows licensing boards from enacting more restrictive standards on telehealth than statutorily provided.
  • Washington governor signed SB 5175 on April 17, 2015. The bill requires parity in health insurance coverage of telemedicine care. In Washington, the Medical Quality Assurance Commission created guidelines defining the scope of telehealth and its regulation. This bill provides for health insurance coverage of telehealth-provided services.

Many other states continue to consider telehealth-related measures:

  • Minnesota HF 1246 (companion SF 981) would require health, including dental, plans to provide coverage for covered services provided via telemedicine. Additionally, the bill provides for reimbursement for both the on-site provider and the distant provider. HF 1246, as well as the companion bill, are pending in committees.
  • The Illinois House is considering a resolution to create the Telehealth Services Committee to explore the effectiveness of telehealth. A public hearing will be held on May 19, 2015.
  • Missouri HB 319 was passed by House and had a hearing in the Senate. It addresses the technology used and subsequent patient data safety concerns. The bill would create the Telehealth Services Advisory Committee to propose rules regarding “store-and-forward technology” as well as which health care professionals are authorized to engage in telehealth (including supervised dental hygienists).
  • Nevada AB292 would require parity in health insurance coverage for telehealth services. The measure passed the Assembly and was referred to the Senate. A public hearing was held on May 8, 2015, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy recommended passage. On May 17, the full Senate passed the bill 21-0.
  • The Rhode Island legislature declined to make a decision on a telemedicine health insurance coverage measure. They held the bill and called for further study.
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