Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bills Introduced in States

Recently, New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Louisiana have introduced bills related to telemedicine and telehealth. In New York, two companion bills one in the House and one in the Senate includes reimbursement for telemedicine services for home health agencies, long term home health care programs, AIDS home care programs, and licensed home care services agencies. If services are covered for hospital, medical and/ or surgical care then telemedicine services would be covered.

The state of Connecticut is considering a bill to deal with the coverage of telemedicine services under Medicaid. If it is deemed appropriate, an in-person contact between healthcare providers and patients would not be required when services can be provided using telemedicine and the telemedicine services would be eligible for reimbursements under the state Medicaid plan.

In addition, the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Connecticut may establish a demonstration project to offer telemedicine as a Medicaid-covered service at Federally-Qualified Community Health Centers.

Connecticut’s Commissioner for Social Services in consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health could establish rates for cost reimbursement for telemedicine services provided to Medicaid recipients. The Commissioner may also apply if necessary to the federal government for an amendment to the state Medicaid plan to cover telemedicine services.

Legislation to enact the “South Carolina Telemedicine Insurance Reimbursement Act” would help expand telemedicine services. The Act would require insurers, hospitals, and medical, service corporations, healthcare corporations, HMOs, preferred provider organizations, provider-sponsored healthcare corporations, and managed care entities that provide health insurance policies in the state to include reimbursement for telemedicine.

State representative Scott M Simon from Louisiana has made a request to the Louisiana state legislature urging the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to study ways to expand access to telehealth services to residents of the state. To conduct the study, DHH would need to engage, collaborate, and obtain information and perspective from stakeholder groups.

Some of the universities and organizations that need to be included as stakeholders are the healthcare services division within the Louisiana State University System, Tulane University School of Medicine, Louisiana State Medical Society, Louisiana Primary Care Association, and the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum. The study’s findings would need to be reported to the State House Committee on Health and Welfare and the State Senate Committee on Health and Welfare by December 31, 2012.