Changing Telehealth Laws

A Flurry of New Telemedicine Laws Hits the U.S.

It’s no wonder the United States’ physicians and hospitals are confused about the legal landscape in telemedicine. State telemedicine laws are changing so quickly that it’s even difficult for healthcare attorneys to keep pace.

Epstein Becker Green (EBG), one of the nation’s largest law firms specializing in healthcare, recently published a 316-page appendix to its 50-State Survey of Telebehavioral Health. EBG found that in just the last quarter of 2016, 31 states and the District of Columbia enacted new telemedicine private payer laws. Since mid-2016, a number of states including Indiana, Arkansas, and Maine have passed laws allowing physician-patient relationships to be established via telemedicine technology.

The EBG appendix notes that 48 states made “substantive changes” to telemedicine laws in the past year. Alaska passed so many new regulations that its appendix listing runs nine full pages.

“With states continuing to legislate actively, counsel to health providers will be best equipped by following the legislative trends to have an awareness of how states are deciding to regulate in these important areas,” said EBG attorney Amy Lerman. Translation: attorneys, here’s your new bedside reading.

Improving access to telemedicine is clearly on the minds of state lawmakers. All this bustling activity suggests that the federal government will one day pass legislation to streamline and standardize what the states are earnestly enacting.