Telehealth Reimbursement Gaining Momentum at the Federal Level

How Telehealth Reimbursement is Gaining Momentum at the Federal Level

More States Are Removing Barriers to Telehealth Reimbursement

Even with most Americans saying they are open to using telehealth services, it may be a while before we see these services being reimbursed at the federal level through programs like Medicaid and Medicare. More states are slowly signing on to the idea of telehealth reimbursement, but progress remains slow. As more states agree to reimburse telehealth services, more patients will be able to use these services without having to pay for them out-of-pocket. Learn more about how telehealth reimbursement is gaining momentum at the federal level.

Current Outlook on Telehealth Reimbursement

Many states across the country are slowly expanding their list of which telehealth services they’re willing to reimburse, but many are hesitant to entirely embrace this new digital technology. As of 2018, states tend to value certain telehealth services as opposed to embracing and reimbursing the entire telehealth package.

Here is the current outlook on telehealth reimbursement according to the Center for Connected Health Policy’s State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies Report:

  • 49 states and Washington DC will reimburse some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service.
  • 11 states reimburse for store-and-forward telehealth services, in which remote hosts store healthcare information before passing it along to the final destination.
  • 20 states reimburse Medicaid for remote patient monitoring.
  • 23 states strictly define where a telemedicine or telehealth program can originate – usually a healthcare facility, while other states will allow a patient’s home or a school.
  • 34 state Medicaid programs charge a transmission or facility fee when telehealth is used.
  • 7 states mandate that healthcare providers get informed consent from the patient before using telehealth.

As you can see, states tend to be selective when it comes to which aspects of telehealth they’re willing to reimburse on the federal level. Live video and remote patient monitoring seem to be the most utilized and valued telehealth services among the states according to this report.

How Things Continue to Change

While more states are slowly expanding Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement of telehealth services, many states remain confused as to the value of these services. There remains a lot of confusion in terms of how these services work, how they should be implemented, and how much they should cost. Many patients have yet to make use of these services, which makes it difficult for researchers to collect meaningful data on their value.

Yet, as time goes on, progress continues to be made. 2018 proved that more states are removing barriers for telehealth reimbursement. The state of Nevada recently announced that Medicaid providers in the state are now allowed to deliver services via telehealth as long as they fall within the provider’s scope of practice. While in Maine, the state is clarifying its Medicaid policy in terms of which healthcare centers can serve as a site provider of telehealth reimbursement.

The Future of Federal Telehealth Reimbursement

While these steps are helping more providers get reimbursed for telehealth services, the healthcare industry has a long way to go before it universally accepts telehealth technology. Many in the industry remain skeptical in terms of the value of telehealth, while others are struggling to make sense of their state’s unique Medicaid reimbursement laws. New regulations are being added to these reimbursement laws all the time, dictating how and when telehealth services can be administered and reimbursed.

However, over time, we should see more states tearing down barriers to telehealth reimbursement, giving more patients the option to correspond with a care provider and access health services on-the-go.