State Update: New Telehealth Bills Signed in Vermont, Hawaii

It’s been a busy year for telehealth in many state legislatures (not to mention on Capitol Hill). Indeed, an April report from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) identified more than 200 telehealth-related bills that had been introduced in 44 states in 2017 alone. Now, two states have enacted legislation that would make it easier to receive quality care via telehealth within their borders. As Health Care Law Today, CCHP, and others first reported, lawmakers in both Vermont and Hawaii recently passed bills that would both expand reimbursement for telehealth services and enhance the quality of care.

Per Healthcare Law Today, the far-reaching Vermont bill, signed into law by Governor Phil Scott (R) last month, expands private insurance coverage for telehealth services, allowing for payment parity with services provided in person. The new law also removes previous restrictions on originating sites, and allows for reimbursement for certain store-and-forward telehealth services. In addition, it loosened documentation requirements for the provision of care via telehealth, and approved telehealth prescribing. Notably, in what Health Care Law Today calls a “unique” move, the law also explicitly forbids the recording of telehealth sessions. Overall, the bill seems poised to make a significant impact on Vermont patients and providers. “With an effective date of October 1, 2017, providers and insurers need to be ready and positioned for the patients who will want to enjoy this new coverage,” Health Care Law Today’s Nathaniel Lacktman and Thomas Ferrante note.

The Hawaii legislation, which passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate, and was officially enacted on July 12 with Governor David Ige’s (D) signature, addresses network standards for providers of telehealth care. Specifically, it “requires a health carrier with a network plan to maintain a network that includes sufficient numbers of appropriate types of providers to ensure that covered persons have access to covered services.” Included within the text of the legislation: a definition of telehealth, and a stipulation that health insurance providers “describe in their access plan their network, including how the use of telehealth or other technology may be used to meet network access standards, if applicable.” Other states, as CCHP has noted, have passed similar “network adequacy” bills, too.

(PS: CTeL is currently working on a report that examines state-level telehealth legislation introduced in 2017. Stay tuned!)

Click here to read the article on the Vermont legislation from Healthcare Law Today.

Click here for information on the Hawaii legislation from the Center for Connected Health Policy.

 

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