Telehealth

Information about how COVID-19 has changed the use of telehealth to provide health care, including access, scope of practice, and regulatory changes at the state, federal, and organizational levels.

(04/02/21) CMS Expands Telehealth Coverage for Audiologists, Speech-Language Pathologists
After failing to see an expanded role in initial COVID-19 telehealth expansion legislation, audiologists and speech-language pathologists are seeing expanded reimbursable services from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provided through telehealth.

(03/31/21) To Improve Telemedicine, Reform Outdated State Medical Licensing Rules
The successful rapid adoption of telehealth has garnered much attention to the need for telehealth reform as states plan to guide wider adoption of telehealth. This article highlights the need to address outdated state medical licensing rules to improve the adoption of and access to telehealth services.

(03/30/21) FCC Approves Plan to Relaunch COVID-19 Telehealth Program
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to adopt a new plan to begin a second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This program seeks to correct issues with the first round, including establishing a system to rate telehealth applications and a focus on equitable distribution of funding across the United States.

(03/20/21) A Post-COVID Reimagining of Telehealth in Medicare
This opinion piece from The Hill discusses the need for lawmakers to expand telehealth coverage for Medicare patients beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the proposed expansions include extending the list of conditions to be treated, relaxing geographic restrictions, and improving reimbursement rates for telehealth services.

(03/16/21) Digital Divide Yields Income Telehealth Care Access Disparities
A new analysis from the RAND Corporation that assessed the utilization of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic found significant access disparities linked to geographic and economic differences. These findings suggest that policy makers should focus on improving telehealth care access and resources for these groups.

(03/15/21) Congress Targets Telehealth Coverage for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment
Bipartisan legislation seeks to expand access for mental health and substance use disorder services through mandating coverage from private insurers. Telehealth waivers implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to calls for more permanent solutions such as this legislation.

(03/15/21) The Boom in Out-of-state Telehealth Threatens In-state Providers
Several states have relaxed licensure requirements and telehealth restrictions which allowed out-of-state providers to deliver telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As states seek to permanently expand access to telehealth services, some providers are concerned about the unintended consequences of expansion.

(03/11/21) Congress Must Ensure Telehealth Access After Pandemic’s Over
The emergency expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the delivery and access of health care services. The American Medical Association urges congress to ensure that telehealth remains available after the pandemic is over, especially for Medicare patients.

(03/10/21) Lawmakers Look to Expand Telehealth Services
Telehealth has played a critical role in the safe provision of health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states are focusing on permanently reducing telehealth restrictions for providers and expanding access to telehealth services for patients.

(03/08/21) National Quality Forum Looks to Update Telehealth Quality Benchmarks
This article highlights a recent Health Care Strategies podcast held by Xtelligent Healthcare Media. During this interview, the senior vice president of Quality measurement for the National Quality Forum, Sheri Winsper, announces a new project with the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. Sheri Winsper outlines plans to develop a framework that would measure telehealth outcomes in rural areas.

(03/04/21) The “State” of Telehealth: Oregon
Oregon Senator Lee Bayer and State Representative Rachel Prusak introduced a bill in efforts to permanently expand parity for telehealth services and in-clinic services. Service and payment parity for telehealth would increase access to health care services and allow providers to receive reimbursement at the same rates of in-clinic services.

(03/04/21) Maryland Lawmakers Debate Bill to Expand School-Based Telehealth
An emergency bill currently being debated by the Maryland legislature seeks to make it easier for school-based health centers to offer telehealth services to their students. Currently, only 18 of 86 school based health centers in the state offer this technology.

(03/01/21) Telehealth Has Been Good in the Pandemic. It Could Be Great Long Term.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the delivery of health care services. As cases surged, many providers adapted telehealth as a way to safely provide access to care and contain the spread of the virus. Telehealth has played a critical role during the pandemic and there are several advantages of permanently expanding telehealth services.

(02/25/21) Illinois Bill Would Allow Optometrists to Provide Telehealth Services
Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam filed a new bill that would expand the use of telehealth and include optometric services.

(02/23/21) We Should Keep Expanding Telehealth, Even After the Pandemic
Senators Brian Schatz, Tim Scott, and state officials are proposing ways to permanently lift regulations that place geographic limits on telehealth in the new Telehealth Modernization Act.

(02/23/21) 2 More Telehealth Bills Return to Congress For Another Try
Two telehealth bills, The TREATS Act and the Telehealth Modernization Act, are being reintroduced to Congress, as part of proposed legislation to keep telehealth an important priority post COVID-19.

(02/22/21) Will Telehealth Payment Parity be Permanent or a Passing Fancy?
As federal and state lawmakers shape telehealth policy post COVID-19, payment parity will be the most important issue, according to a recent study of state telehealth commercial insurance coverage and parity laws by the Foley & Lardner law firm.

(02/18/21) Variation in Telemedicine Use and Outpatient Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States
A new journal article has been published in Health Affairs researching the use of telehealth and its effect on outpatient visits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings include disparities in use of telemedicine by income and differences in use of telehealth for different specialties.

(02/18/21) For Diabetes Care, Telehealth Is a Keeper
This article from Healthline discusses the use of telehealth services for diabetes care, where new research supports the effectiveness for managing the condition with satisfaction from both providers and patients.

(02/17/21) Connected Care Alliance Unveils Telehealth Licensing Portability Plan
This article highlights the key features of draft legislation for a Medical Excellence Zone produced by the Alliance for Connected Care. The Medical Excellence Zone is a regional licensure portability program aimed at allowing participating states to recognize each other’s medical licenses.

(02/15/21) Questions Arise Over Medicare Coverage for Mental Health Services by Telehealth
This article discusses the potential impact of a pandemic relief bill that mandates an in-person exam as a prerequisite for Medicare coverage of a telehealth-based service.

(02/12/21) Can 10 Months of Data Show How to Optimize Use of Telehealth?
This article narrates and assesses a panel discussion on “Advancing Telehealth for Patients and Physicians” at the 2021 AMA State Advocacy Summit. The panelists explored how the pandemic accelerated the adoption of telehealth, its impact on the delivery of care, and the need to expand coverage.

(02/10/21) Report Shows ‘Vast Improvement’ in State Telehealth Reimbursement Policies
A new report found that the COVID-19 pandemic compelled state and federal policymakers to remove restrictions on and expand reimbursement for telehealth and virtual care. It has also been reported that forty three states and the District of Columbia implemented a version of a state telehealth commercial payer law.

(02/09/21) Massachusetts Enacts Legislation Promoting Access to Quality and Affordable Care, Telehealth
This news article discusses the key features of a Massachusetts health care law that was signed on January 1, 2021 by Governor Charlie Baker. The act addresses a wide variety of healthcare issues, such as billing, advanced practitioner scope of practice, telehealth, mental health parity and healthcare accessibility.

(02/08/21) Congress Gets Another Shot at Easing Telehealth Licensure Restrictions
This article discusses the key features of the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act which aims to allow providers to bypass state and federal licensing requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Treat Act would improve access to care for consumers by allowing healthcare providers to use telehealth to treat anyone in any state throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

(02/05/21) Telehealth, Licensure Portability Featured in New Disaster Preparedness Plan
This article discusses a proposed national emergency preparedness plan that includes a strategy for licensure portability as well as a framework for expanding the access to and coverage of telehealth.

(02/04/21) Lawmakers Reintroduce COVID-19 Telehealth Licensure Bill
A new bill submitted to the United States House of Representatives and the Senate seeks to allow health care providers to use telehealth to treat patients across state lines both throughout and for 6 months following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current rules have been relaxed in some states during the public health emergency, but barriers due to differences between state and federal licensure requirements remain.

(01/29/2021) Accelerating Digital Health to Achieve Equitable Delivery of the COVID-19 Vaccine
The authors in this Health Affairs blog article discusses how digital health technology can be used with community-based and faith-based organizations to help meet the needs of underserved communities.

(01/25/2021) US Lawmakers Reintroduce House Bill Safeguarding Access to Telehealth
This article discusses a reintroduced House bill aimed at expanding access to telehealth beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

(01/21/21) South Dakota Governor Looks to Make Telehealth Coverage Permanent
An article outlining South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s plans to permanently extend emergency telehealth rules enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(01/19/21) What Role Will Telehealth Play After COVID-19?
This article examines important topics dealing with the future of telehealth, including whether or not Congress is committed to telehealth, what private payers think about telehealth, and whether or not telehealth should be a long-term investment.

(01/10/21) Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth for All as Part of 2021 State of the State
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a proposal to expand access to telehealth for all New Yorkers by making permanent and further expanding many of the pandemic-related expansions. Telehealth use has increased dramatically following changes to regulation to ensure reimbursement and efforts to keep providers and patients safe from COVID-19 infection.

(01/07/21) Telehealth Usage Rises With Increase of COVID-19 Cases
This article from HealthLeaders discusses new analysis from FAIR Health of insurance claims, noticing an increase in insurance claims for telehealth services matching an increase in cases of COVID-19. Telehealth claims rose substantially in 2020 over 2019, with sustained use from March through October, the most recent month analyzed.

(01/06/21) Poll: Most Americans Plan to Use Telehealth After the Pandemic
This article from MedCity News covers a recent Harris Poll survey finding nearly 65% of Americans reported planning to continue using telehealth even after the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the survey also showed more than half of those aged 35-49 would prefer to have both telehealth and in-person visits, nearly two-thirds of those over age 65 would prefer in-person visits.

(01/04/21) Massachusetts Governor Signs Law Safeguarding Telehealth Coverage
Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has signed a law to make permanent many of the telehealth-related regulations put in place to enable better access to virtual treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new bill will require permanent rate parity on certain health services and an expanded scope of practice for some providers, among other provisions.

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