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States can’t keep up with telemedicine rush

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Governing magazine looks at  how some states are dealing with the telemedicine revolution.

“Despite the momentum, there are still plenty of gaps and question marks when it comes to telehealth policy. The 21 states without a parity {on provider reimbursement} law aren’t uniformly liberal or conservative. Kansas, South Carolina and Utah don’t have one, but neither do Illinois or Pennsylvania. Massachusetts, a state known for progressive healthcare policies, doesn’t have a parity law. It currently only covers telemedicine under Medicaid with certain managed care plans, and not for fee-for-service payments.

“Even among states that do have parity laws, the patchwork of policies can vary widely from one state to the next. Texas, for example, requires insurers to cover telehealth, but it mandates that a patient’s first appointment with a new doctor must be an in-person visit. Within Medicaid programs, about half of the states require that a patient be in a medical facility for telehealth appointments, rather than at home. The differences among states can be frustrating for telemedicine providers. Kofi Jones, vice president of public relations and government affairs for the telehealth company American Well, says she has 30 binders in her office filled with state-by-state regulations and legislation. …”

“Traditional health-care providers can be slow to integrate new technology. After all, almost half of doctor’s offices polled in 2013 still used paper records, according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other recent surveys have found that only 2 percent of patients nationwide have access to video visits with their primary care physician. Less than half — 45 percent — even receive a traditional phone appointment reminder.”


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