Mario Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) put the spotlight on CCHP’s new information available at www.telehealthpolicy.us that scans and analyzes state telehealth laws and regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He spoke at a recent “Alliance for Health Reform” event “The Healthcare Workforce: Prescription for the Future” held March 22, 2013.
He noted that the CCHP report basically found that there are no uniform policies across states and states should explore telehealth policy with contiguous states. Secondly, telehealth is not being utilized to its fullest potential and states should promote policies that incentivize use of the technology. Thirdly, since federal policies influence states and their policies, federal agencies should expand policies and encourage states to do the same.
Forty four states have some form of reimbursement for telehealth, but Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia do not reimburse for telehealth.
It was also found that 44 state Medicaid programs only reimburse for live video, 7 state Medicaid programs offer some reimbursement for store and forward, 10 state Medicaid programs offer reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), and 3 state Medicaid programs reimburse for all three. In addition, some of the states reimburse for RPM through their Department of Aging Services programs.
Sometimes, a pilot may go unused. For example the RPM program in Utah is a Medicaid skilled nursing facility pilot that appears no one is utilizing. In this particular pilot, there are very specific qualifications that both the patient and home health agency must meet for eligibility so that the lack of activity may due to the fact that the requirements are too strict.
As for reimbursement for private payers, 16 states have laws that impact reimbursement policies of private payers but not all states contain a mandate on private payers. For example, California leaves reimbursement subject to the policies of the payer, though most payers seem willing to adopt reimbursement policies.
Currently there are 29 states where some form of telehealth legislation is under consideration. Connecticut, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington State and the District of Columbia have introduced private payer bills.