States' diverging telehealth policies cause for confusion

Washington state now covers store-and-forward remote monitoring, while Oklahoma has stopped reimbursing for such services--both clear examples of states' diverging policy directions when it comes to telemedicine, according to a recent report.

Looking primarily at Medicaid fee-for-service policies, the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) found that "no two states are alike in how telehealth is defined and regulated."

While it says that's to be expected, since each state is in charge of Medicaid policy parameters, it can create confusion for patients.

Some of the most significant findings from the report include:

  • Three states do not have any type of reimbursement for telemedicine in public programs: Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Utah
  • Live video is reimbursed most often, with every state (aside the three noted above) offering coverage for the service. However, live video is reimbursed in myriad ways throughout the country. For example, Connecticut only reimburses for case management behavioral health services for patients under 18; California reimburses for many medical specialties
  • In many states, store and forward is not part of the Medicaid programs because many say the services should be in real-time. There are nine states that do reimburse for such services, including Virginia, California and Mississippi
  • Sixteen state Medicaid programs cover remote patient monitoring, a number that has not changed since CCHP released a report in July
  • Nine state medical boards issue special licenses or certificates related to telehealth

The American Telemedicine Association also noted in its own reports that there has been a "mix of strides and stagnation" when it comes to reimbursement for and access to telemedicine services.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)