State of Excitement

February 27, 2013 by InTouch Health

A bill before the Indiana state legislature requires Medicaid to reimburse for telemedicine services provided to all rural health clinics.

For those of us who’ve been waiting for meaningful telemedicine legislation at the state level, there’s cause for celebration. Eight states and the District of Columbia have already introduced bills this year aimed at expanding telemedicine reimbursement from both Medicaid and private insurers. And the ATA estimates that another ten states will follow suit in coming months.

Much of the proposed legislation draws heavily from the ATA’s recommendations for what constitutes a model telemedicine bill. This succinct document gives lawmakers some statehouse-friendly language on how to expand telemedicine coverage by health plans, HMOs, Medicaid and home health.

Legislators in Mississippi and New Mexico deserve kudos for introducing two new bills, presumably to widen the discussion to ensure that the final bill is comprehensive. The bills would require all health insurance plans to cover telemedicine services to the same extent as those provided in-person.

In Florida, House bill 499 would require both health insurers and Medicaid to provide coverage for telemedicine services, and would extend Medicaid telemedicine coverage to home care. A bill in Indiana goes a step further, requiring Medicaid to reimburse for telemedicine services provided to all rural health clinics.

Proposed legislation in the state of Washington would greatly reduce hospital compliance requirements when granting privileges or associations to telemedicine physicians. And the South Carolina bill has language requiring both individual plans and HMOs to provide telemedicine coverage.

It’s looking like 2013 will indeed be a watershed year for far-reaching telemedicine legislation. You can feel the momentum in states both red and blue. Politicians are very sensitive to the winds of change, so now’s the time to contact your state legislators and keep the pressure building. This could be our year!

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