New Telehealth Legislation In Progress
With states looking to extend the use of telehealth beyond the pandemic, state legislative measures are being put in place. But what further considerations have to be made to seal the telehealth deal?
Telehealth has been the default choice throughout this pandemic, but states want to extend its use even after the COVID-19 wave disappears. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that a lot of telehealth legislation has been passed as an “emergency” — in-person visits can’t happen, so everything has to be virtual.
But with technological services and cloud storage on the rise, lots of people think that making telehealth a regular thing in the future could be beneficial. It wouldn’t take the place of in-person visits (like people are scared of), but instead could be a useful supplement to them. So what actions have state legislators taken to make sure telehealth is here to stay?
The Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act works on providing data to give insight on areas in the U.S. with poor maternal health outcomes. This act involves collaboration between the FCC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in using broadband health mapping tools. There’s currently bipartisan support on the act, with senators from Nevada, Nebraska, Indiana, and Hawaii. Advancements on passing this legislation have been made on July 22, 2020.
Connecticut’s state representative Sean Scanlon has recently written and proposed a telehealth bill that will extend the current executive order issued by Gov. Lamont using telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in these services are access to health care over Zoom and over the phone. Scanlon stresses an important point — “Telehealth cannot replace in person physical health care and nobody is trying to make that happen” — to remind people of the purpose of telehealth services during this pandemic. Read more about it here.
Another concern with telehealth care is the varying costs covered by insurance companies and Medicaid. A lot of insurance companies are not giving as much coverage for telehealth visits than traditional in-person visits, causing less people to pick the telehealth option. But Massachusetts Majority Leader Ron Mariano talked about a House bill intent on tackling these uncertainties.
The bill has a specific provision to make sure that the cost for remotely-conducted medical visits would be “no less than the rate of payment for the same behavioral health service delivered via in-person methods.” While Mariano notes that the telehealth bill doesn’t cover the privacy and data security issues that must be considered, the bill (if approved by the House) will greatly advance telehealth use in the future.
Like any emerging industry, the telehealth industry will have countless trials and tribulations to face. But seeing how people believe in the services it can provide for many Americans today is reassuring, and definitely a step in teh right direction!