22 states have changed their telemedicine laws amid the pandemic

Health and Wellness Informatics News

Most of the states are pursuing the changes through administrative actions, as per the report of the new Commonwealth Fund report.

It may not be a permanent solution as the COVID-19 emergency ends.

The Commonwealth Fund released an issue brief this week while reviewing the state actions for expanding telehealth. The states have taken many actions to enhance the individual and the group health coverages for telemedicine between the time of March 2020 to March 2021. It has been found that the 22 states have changed their laws or policies for telemedicine amidst the pandemic. The changes have taken place in demand of more robust insurance covered for telemedicine.

In case telemedicine comes up as a less costly way, it can benefit in delivering care. Also, the payers and the consumers can get more benefit from the expanding coverage of telemedicine after the end of the pandemic.

In the last year, the federal regulators temporarily relieved the restrictions for telemedicine visits. It also got the considerations for the Medicare patients, raising of payments to the same level as the physician visits and reducing the cost-sharing.

The officials from a variety of states have been encouraged to provide a similar level of flexibility under private insurances. Many of the states have followed this encouragement. The 22 states which have expanded telemedicine have pursued various changes through administrative actions.

Some states opted for using the bulletins, notices, and executive orders from the various departments of the insurances to improve the coverage. The new legislation, which takes more time, is also necessary for making permanent changes. It has passed in eight of the states.

States like Illinois, West Virginia, Utah have changed their policies during this pandemic. At this moment, the 40 states require coverage. Also, these policies carry an equal level of impact. 18 states required coverage for audio-only services.

Four states have eliminated the cost-sharing for telemedicine services. Three states have added a requirement for limiting the cost-sharing to exceed the in-person services. 10 states are newly requiring the insurers to pay the providers the same for the in-person and telemedicine visits.

Multiple states have already implemented pro-telehealth policies for enabling access even after the pandemic. However, the federal legislation is still concerning areas that could have prevented the telehealth cliff.

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