- Telehealth coverage legislation is being modified and implemented across the country due to its many benefits such as cost reduction and greater access to care. Nathaniel Lacktman, attorney and expert in telemedicine law at Foley & Lardner, explained to mHealthIntelligence.com that telehealth coverage legislation is happening at “rapidly increasing pace … in the last few years, with currently 29 states plus Washington D.C. having enacted coverage laws.”
Below we outline four states in which telehealth coverage legislation and other telemedicine guidance is spreading the use of this technology and improving access to care in isolated, rural locations.
In the state of Colorado, new guidelines have been issued that may bring about a new law that would expand telemedicine use. The Colorado Medical Board released new guidance that supports the use of telehealth technology among those living in cities as well as those in more isolated locations, according to mHealthIntelligence.com.
Patients are also no longer required to be located in a medical facility when using these telemedicine services. While these guidelines do expand access to care, there are still conditions regarding the state licensure of doctors using telehealth, as Colorado physicians will be unable to practice telemedicine across state borders.
In October, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an amendment changing New York’s telehealth coverage legislation and will take effect on January 1. Both Medicaid insurance and commercial coverage plans are going to be impacted by this new amendment, mHealthIntelligence.com reports.
This newly amended telehealth coverage legislation expands the number of providers eligible to practice telemedicine and also provides a very broad definition of telehealth. One important change the amendment makes is to stress remote patient monitoring as part of telemedicine coverage.
“For a state to realize meaningful adoption of telehealth using these laws, much depends on the language of the statute,” Lacktman mentioned in the interview. “A narrowly drawn statute may provide coverage only for telemedicine and define it as licensed physician services. If that’s the case, the market will see growth primarily in consults and other types of physician-driven services.”
“If, instead, a statute is drafted more broadly to include telehealth, virtual care, or remote patient monitoring, the market will see growth in these areas, including equipment, software, and technology associated with these services. This could also trigger growth in companies that offer mHealth, patient health apps, or data-driven interfaces, all of which are part of the virtual care enterprise.”
A new law in Texas is making an impact on expanding healthcare to students in schools by supporting the use of telehealth technology in pediatric diagnostics and treatments. Several months ago, doctors in Texas were offered the opportunity to speak with schoolchildren via video consultation technology and have their healthcare services reimbursed by payers.
This is also beneficial for parents as well as the children, as it will no longer require parents to take time off from work to bring their children to their primary care doctor for treating a cold, an ear infection, or other minor health issues.
Telehealth coverage legislation was also altered in the state of New Hampshire recently. For example, physicians will not need to meet their patients in-person to conduct a physical exam before providing telemedicine services.
Doctors in New Hampshire can form partnerships and contractual agreements to expand the use of telehealth as well as increase patient engagement through these new communication platforms. Also, the consultation exemption allows doctors to practice telemedicine across the state border in certain situations.
These are only some of the examples of telehealth coverage legislation spreading throughout the country. As time goes on and technology advances, telemedicine services are likely to be found in all 50 states.