State Legislative Changes for Telemedicine Taking Effect in 2018

2017 proved to be a great year for telemedicine! At the state level, the increased popularity of telehealth sparked significant updates in policy reform for telehealth services. A comprehensive report conducted by Epstein Becker Green documented changes by state regarding remote care, new regulations, and updated policies.

How Legislation Changes Affect Providers

State policy changes impact who can use telehealth, how it can be used, who is paying for it, and at what level it should be reimbursed. Legislative changes affect providers by outlining guidelines and restrictions for each respective specialty on a state to state basis.

Telehealth Gaining Popularity

Initially, telehealth had trouble gaining popularity. Many healthcare professionals opposed telehealth for various reasons such as security, lack of professionalism, additional cost, etc. Here we are several years later addressing those concerns with specific state by state legislative changes in all 50 states. A report from mobihealthnews stated that 61% of healthcare institutions use Telehealth. With remote care gaining popularity and over half of the healthcare industry using Telehealth it’s essential that you, the provider, stay up to date on changes in your states telehealth policy.

The Big Changes 9 States Made for 2018

2017 state legislative sessions resulted in 11 policy changes in 9 states that take effect in 2018.

Arkansas: The AR Telemedicine Act amend the definition of telemedicine and originating site, address requirements of a professional relationship when using telemedicine, add standards for the appropriate use of telemedicine, and address insurance coverage of telemedicine.

California: Two bills in CA (AB 205 and SB 171) will allow Medi-Cal managed care plans to request alternative access standards via telemedicine or e-visits.

Colorado: Bill SB 2017 in CO creates a behavioral health crisis response system and crisis service facilities walk-in centers mobile response units, and addresses the role telehealth can play in these situations.

Illinois: Two new pieces of legislation changes in IL will take effect in 2018. The first policy (HB 2907) says that patients receiving telepsychiatry services or medical service are not required to have a physician physically present.

Additionally, SB 1811 creates the Telehealth Act. Healthcare professionals may engage in telehealth consistent with the standards of care for in-person services to the extent of his or her scope of practice.

Montana: SB 129 requires insurance coverage for teledentistry.

Oregon: Changes is OR legislation for 2018 allow dental care providers to utilize telehealth if they believe it’s appropriate and within their scope

Tennessee: HB 664 permits licensed physicians to practice medicine across state lines within the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact if they meet the agreed upon eligibility requirements. Approximately 80% of physicians meet the criteria for licensure through the IMLC.

Texas: Legislation SB 1107 provides for definitions of telehealth and telemedicine and defines a practitioner-patient relationship for telemedicine medical services.

Washington: SB 5436 further defines where a patient can receive health services, and also expands private payer reimbursement.

Many states are continuing to refine telehealth regulations in 2018. It’s important to note that these changes are state specific. Recent support from the federal government gives us hope for equal and relevant Telehealth laws statewide, but for now providers must be aware of the new changes in their state.