Delaware Governor Signs Telemedicine Coverage Bill Into Law

July 9, 2015 in News

On Tuesday, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) signed into law a bill (HB 69) that requires health insurers in the state to cover telemedicine services, Modern Healthcare reports.

According to Modern Healthcare, the move makes Delaware is the 29th state to require insurers to cover telemedicine. Four other states — Rhode Island, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — are currently considering similar bills, according to Latoya Thomas, director of the American Telemedicine Association’s State Policy Resource Center.

Details of the Law

The law defines state regulations regarding telemedicine and prohibits insurers from discriminating against providers who offer telemedicine services (Rubenfire, Modern Healthcare, 7/7).

Specifically, the law defines telemedicine as “a form of telehealth which is the delivery of clinical health care services by means of real time two-way audio, visual or other telecommunications or electronic communications … to provide or support health care delivery, which facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient’s health care” by a licensed provider (HB 69 text, 5/14).

However, Mario Gutierrez, executive director of the National Telehealth Policy Resource Center, said it is unclear if the law also covers telehealth services, which uses technology for:

  • Social services;
  • Remote patient monitoring; and
  • Other non-clinical procedures.

He noted that most states enact laws covering both telemedicine and telehealth.

Reaction

Markell said, “Telemedicine will improve access to information and medical care for Delawareans, leading to better health outcomes for patients and reduced costs for hospitalizations and transportation.”

Thomas praised the legislation, saying, “[T]hese telemedicine parity laws guarantee providers and beneficiaries access to care in the same way they would if they were in person.”

Meanwhile, Gutierrez said that while the bill represents “a good faith effort … they’ve made it much more confusing than it needs to be.”  He added, “A lot of this will likely be left to the regulatory process to the state, so I’d be anxious to see how this is defined” (Modern Healthcare, 7/7).

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