States Advance, Reject Various Telehealth-Related Bills

March 26, 2015 in News

Several states recently have taken action on bills aimed at expanding access to telehealth services, mHealth Intelligence reports (Mcaskill, mHealth Intelligence, 3/19).

Arkansas Blocks Telehealth

Last week, Arkansas lawmakers voted 49-21 to reject a bill (HB 1747) that would have allowed telehealth providers to operate in the state, mHealthNews reports.

The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Sullivan (R).

Supporters of the measure said that allowing telehealth firms to offer remote care in the state could save hundreds of thousands of dollars and improve access to care for individuals in underserved areas. However, opponents said the measure would hurt care quality (Wicklund, mHealthNews, 3/24).

Sullivan indicated that he plans to seek another vote on the bill (AP/THV11, 3/20).

Colorado Expands Telehealth Services

On Friday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed a bill (HB 1029) that requires insurers to reimburse health care providers for telehealth services, the Denver Business Journal reports (Sealover, Denver Business Journal, 3/20).

The bill, sponsored by state Reps. Perry Buck (R) and Joann Ginal (D), prevents health plans from requiring in-person care if the same services are available remotely at the same quality (iHealthBeat, 1/26).

It also removes a population limit that restricted telehealth to patients in counties with 150,000 or fewer residents (Denver Business Journal, 3/20). The bill was previously amended to delay the removal of the population restrictions from Jan. 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017 (iHealthBeat, 1/26).

Florida Mulls Telehealth Reimbursement Expansion

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill (HB 545) that aims to increase the use of telehealth and reimbursements for such services within the state (mHealth Intelligence, 3/19).

The bill — introduced by state Rep. Travis Cummings (R) — addresses standards of care, in-state licensing and other issues (CBS Miami, 3/12).

Idaho Outlines Acceptable Telehealth Practices

The Idaho Senate has voted 31-3 to approve a bill (HB 0189) that outlines permissible telehealth practices within the state, mHealth Intelligence reports.

For example, the bill would allow the state licensing board to maintain the rules and oversight of services that can be provided via telehealth.

The bill, which now heads to the governor’s desk, received opposition from three state Democrats who raised concerns about language that would ban physicians from using telehealth to prescribe abortion medications.

Missouri Lawmakers Introduce Telehealth Measures

Earlier this month, Missouri Rep. Jay Barnes (R) introduced a bill (HB 319) to restructure Medicaid reimbursement regulations for telehealth.

Under current rules, Medicaid reimburses for telehealth services when administered from an approved “originating site” in the presence of an eligible provider. According to mHealth Intelligence, the bill would:

  • Include schools and MO HealthNet to the list of approved sites; and
  • Add social workers and rural health clinic providers to the list of eligible administrators.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Kip Kendrick (D) has introduced a separate measure (HB 340) that aims to expand telehealth services in schools (mHealth Intelligence, 3/19).

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