The telehealth market has thrived during the current coronavirus pandemic. This platform allows physicians to meet with patients while maintaining social distancing, a practice that can be beneficial to all involved. Health insurance companies often cover these visits, but the rate of pay is not always comparable to an in-person visit.
Some states have legislation in place that address this lack of payment parity. Others have passed emergency legislation to cover the gap as a result of COVID-19. Whether or not these emergency orders will translate to a more permanent solution remains uncertain, but, as noted in a recent publication by Bloomberg Law, the forced change due to the coronavirus could translate to increased acceptance in the future.
Are states making the change?
Approximately 60% of states throughout the country already have legislation in place to address this issue. As noted above, the remaining states have emergency legislation to address the current public health emergency. At this time, it appears those orders will terminate when national emergency orders end.
Is this a state or federal issue?
These matters are primarily state issues. However, federal legislation can help. For example, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated it will “consider” whether or not telehealth changes will remain in place after current public health emergencies come to an end.
In addition, many of the states passed pieces of legislation currently leveling the paying field that are contingent on the national emergency measures. Once those measures end, the state legislation will likely terminate.