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Telemedicine Bill Passed in House

By Stephanie Reardon

According to a report on Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), on January 28, 2015, the Colorado House of Representatives passed a bill to allow private insurers to reimburse telemedicine services without the requirement for the patient to be in a rural area.

“Starting January 1, 2016, the bill removes the population restrictions and precludes a health benefit plan from requiring in-person care delivery when telemedicine is appropriate, regardless of the geographic location of the health care provider and the recipient of care,” the bill states.

A report from the Colorado Hospital Association indicated that in a hearing with the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee the bill passed unanimously at 13-0.

“People in rural communities are accustomed to driving long distances for health care, but they shouldn’t be forced to do so if there are other options available,” said House Representative, Perry Buck (R-Windsor) in a report on Colorado House Republicans. “I am pleased this committee unanimously passed this bill that will help rural residents save time and money by utilizing the modern convenience of tele-health care technology.”

Currently, the law doesn’t require Colorado health care plans to reimburse telemedicine service for a beneficiary who lives in a country with a population of 150,000 or fewer.

Other states have been working similar bills through legislation. Montana passed a law for provider coverage of telemed services in January 2014 and Ohio passed a similar bill in February 2014.  In May 2014, Alaska passed House Bill 281, which extended coverage of telemedicine services to patients in rural and urban areas.  Most recently, in January 2015, New York passed a telehealth law to extend insurance coverage for remote care, and make it more affordable for beneficiaries.

Multiple states still struggle with the use and implementation of telemedicine. A report on EHRIntelligence.com discussed the struggle that states have with telemedicine services as the demand for these services increase. Change seems bound to happen, but it can take time. The State medical board in Texas struggled with the wording of a face-to-face statute stirring a legal battle against a commercial telehealth provider. Meanwhile, Georgia still requires face-to-face interactions.

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