Monthly Regulatory Update– This Month in Telehealth

This month in behavioral health and telemedicine you’ll see Congress busy with telemedicine activity and telemedicine continuing to gain momentum with payers across the country.

Medicare/ Medicaid

Medicare Bill Could Lead to More Tech-Driven Home Health (Home Health Care News)

With several CMS initiatives underway, including value-based purchasing and bundled payments, telemedicine has been on the minds of lawmakers as a way to help keep patients healthy and happy in their homes longer.

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Congress Set to See a Flurry of Telehealth Activity (mHealth Intelligence)

A Senate bill introduced this past week would spur additional Medicare coverage of telehealth in rural areas by allowing more telehealth projects at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

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Telemedicine Bill in Senate Would Expand Rural Coverage Under Medicare (FierceHealthIT)

The latest telehealth bill to be introduced in the Senate, the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act, would expand Medicare coverage to telemedicine services in rural areas.

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Will the CBO Give Telemedicine a Fair Shake? (mHealth Intelligence)

With Congress soon to see proposed legislation that would allow more Medicaid coverage of telehealth services, some are wondering if those bills will get a fair shake from those in control of the purse strings.

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What’s Happening at the State Level?

State Lawmakers Pushing Telemedicine Coverage in 2016 (JDSupra Business Advisor)

State legislation is heavily contributing to the expected reimbursement/coverage uptick in 2016, as more states consider legislation requiring coverage for telemedicine and in-person visits alike. To date, 29 states and Washington D.C. have enacted legislation ensuring that private insurers offer reimbursement for telemedicine at equivalent levels with in-person services, provided the care is deemed medically necessary.

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State Lawmakers Introduced More Than 200 Telemedicine Bills in 2015 (MobiHealthNews)

All but eight states introduced at least one bill related to telemedicine to their state legislature in 2015, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. State lawmakers floated a total of 200 bills across the country.

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State Legislatures Expanding Focus on Telehealth (Medscape)

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released a report Thursday that examines the policy issues related to telehealth and the state laws that govern the use of this technology.

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Read the report here



Telemedicine Expected to Gain Momentum with Insurance Coverage Announcement (Dothaneagle)

Speaking with a physician remotely through a computer screen, instead of having an actual in-office visit, may be done more frequently now that one insurance company announced it would pay for the technology’s use. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama recently announced it would begin paying providers this month for telemedicine services.

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Michigan’s 2 Biggest Insurers Offering Holistic Care, Telemedicine in New Health Plans (mLive)

Michigan’s two biggest health care insurers are expanding the options available for coverage in 2016. Priority Health is offering a holistic plan that covers acupuncture and medical massage, while Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will give customers the choice of consulting with a doctor online through Facetime-like video technology instead coming in for an office visit.

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New Hampshire

Will New Hampshire Offer Medicaid Telehealth Coverage? (Lexology)

A lonely sentence at the end of New Hampshire’s new telemedicine law could mean the Granite State will join 48 other states in offering Medicaid FFS coverage of telehealth services.

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South Dakota

Courts to Consider Telehealth for Mental Health Evaluations (mHealth Intelligence)

South Dakota’s court system could turn to telehealth to ease its backlog of mental health evaluations. With the state’s court system ordering four times as many mental competency evaluations this year as its one mental health facility can handle, a state task force will be looking to ways to speed up the process and keep prisoners from spending months in jail. On solution put forth is by offering evaluations via video.

Read more here


West Virginia

Lack of Broadband Access Holds Back Telemedicine in West Virginia (FierceHealthIT)

The rural areas of West Virginia are ideal for the expansion of telemedicine, but a lack of broadband is hindering health facilities there.

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Walker Signs New Medical Licensure Bill Into Law (WXOW)

Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that would make it easier for doctors to work across state borders.   On Monday Walker signed Assembly Bill 253 at Mayo Clinic Health System in Sparta alongside legislators and medical professional from around the area. The new law officially enters Wisconsin into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

Read more here

Read Bill 253 here


Regulatory Update Matrix

State Status Concerning Issue
Arizona Final Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Practice Standards
Arkansas DraftDec. 8th– Hearing Medical Board Practice Standards
Florida Draft Nov. 20th Meeting Medicaid Service Requirements for Providers
Mississippi No Rule Change Medical Board Board sent letter clarifying interpretation of telemedicine
Missouri Discussions Pharmacy and Medical Boards No drafts or proposals yet
North Dakota Final Medical Board Practice Standards
Ohio Board Approved Medical Board Internet Prescribing
South Carolina Board Approved Guidance Medical Board Practice Standards and Internet Prescribing
Virginia Final Board of Counseling Guidance
Wisconsin Draft ProposalJan. 20th Medical Board Practice Standards

***Information Gathered from ATA Monthly Update Webinar


In Other News…

The Long and Winding Path to Telemedicine Reimbursement (mHealth Intelligence)

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Telehealth Effective for Treating Patients With Mental Health Illnesses (iHealth Beat)

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Does Telemedicine Improve Quality, Reduce Costs? (Modern Medicine Network)

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Telehealth: The Balance Between Access and Ethics (Medical Economics)

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How Telemedicine Is Propelling Change Around The Hospital Experience (Mediapost)

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Future Physicians Need Telemedicine Education, Training (FierceHealthIT)

Read more here
Telemedicine Continues to Gain Momentum with Insurers (FierceHealthPayer)

Read more here


Back in the News…

AMA Seeks to Accelerate Adoption of Telehealth with New Billing Codes(iMedical Apps)

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Cross-State Licensing Compact Gains Momentum (mHealth Intelligence)

Read more here

Stay Tuned…

Telemedicine Bill Coming (ATA)

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Five Telemedicine Trends for 2016 (Health Data)

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2016 Will Be the Year of Telemedicine and ACOs (Lexology)

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AHRQ Calls for More Evidence-Based Research for Telehealth (iHealthbeat)

Read more here

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