Senate Bill 857 sponsored by Senator Vogel, has passed the Senate by a vote of 47-1. The bill now moves on to the Insurance Committee in the state House of Representatives.
The Telemedicine Act authorizes the practice of telemedicine by health care providers. It requires that each licensing board promulgate regulations within 24 months of the effective date of passage and provides for the publishing of temporary regulations within 60 days of passage. It also provides for evaluation and treatment, insurance coverage and Medicaid program reimbursement. The provisions regarding insurance coverage and medicaid program reimbursement shall take effect 90 days. The remainder take effect immediately.
Last session the telemedicine bill failed to advance getting caught up in the politics of abortion. State Representative Kathy Rapp added an amendment to ban telemedicine services from prescribing abortion medications.
The present version of the bill includes language changes to satisfy insurers and health care providers. They bills don’t address the issue of abortion. Representative Rapp said that she will push to have the bills amended again so that telemedicine cannot be used to prescribe abortion drugs.
Representative Rapp chairs the House Insurance Committee where the bills currently reside. The House is expected to consider the legislation in November along with a range of other health-related bills.
Telemedicine has been touted as a way to improve patient care in rural and underserved areas. It is also expected to save the health care industry up to $6 billion annually “by reducing readmission, improving staff utilization and preventing hospitalizations,” according to a Towers Watson study. PAs are expected to play a significant role in Telemedicine services.