State lawmakers ramp up efforts to remove telemedicine hurdles

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Recent efforts by lawmakers in Louisiana and New York highlight a continued nationwide push to remove hurdles to provider use of telemedicine to treat patients.

In the Pelican State earlier this month, the senate passed a bill that stipulates doctors who are not physically located in Louisiana but who are licensed in the state and can access a patient’s medical records need not conduct an in-person exam prior to conducting a telemedicine visit, according to the National Law Review. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. John Schroder, also enables doctors to use audio technology without video, and prohibits state agencies, licensing boards and other commissions from adopting rules “more restrictive” than what is allowed via present-day legislation.

Meanwhile in New York, lawmakers, on May 31, introduced a bill that would require private insurers to reimburse telemedicine visits “on the same basis and at the same rate as established for the same service when not delivered via telehealth.” According to an article in the National Law Review by attorney Nathaniel Lacktman, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, and Elizabeth Rosen, an associate with the same firm, the legislation would bolster a law that went into effect at the beginning of the year that requires insurers to comprehensively cover services provided via telemedicine. After the bill went into effect, some commercial payers said they would only partially reimburse for telehealth services that were “identical” to those provided via face-to-face visits.

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The bill also looks to provide the same parity as it pertains to Medicaid coverage of services.

“What occurred in New York should serve as [a] lesson to providers in other states advocating for telehealth coverage legislation,” Lacktman and Rosen write. “While coverage parity is important, legislation that fails to address payment will open one door, only to leave another closed.”

To learn more:
- here’s the Louisiana bill
- read the National Law Review article
- here’s the New York bill
- check out Lacktman and Rosen’s post

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