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Mass. bill would put virtual visits with physicians on same payment level as in-person ones

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STAT, an affiliate of The Boston Globe, reports that Massachusetts hospitals support a bill to  would require private payers to reimburse for virtual visits with a physician at the same level as in-person services.

Here are five things to know about the bill as summarized and paraphrased by Becker’s Hospital Review.

1. “Under House Bill 267, all Medicaid and state employee plans would be required to cover telemedicine services, including patient-to-physician and physician-to-physician consultations. Physicians could also remotely treat patients in states other than Massachusetts.”

2. “The bill would include services transmitted by video, audio or other electronic communication.”

3. State Rep. John Scibak,  a former hospital vice president who sponsored the bill, said the goal  is to reduce the time, money and stress it takes for patients to travel to the hospital.

4. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans complains that the bill is too broad and would let physicians bill even for minor services, such as a phone call.

5. If the bill passes, Massachusetts would join 29 states that have some type of parity law requiring coverage of telemedicine services. The report notes, however, that not all of these states require equal reimbursement rates, and that states define telemedicine differently.

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