States Begin to Make Interim COVID-19 Telehealth Changes For Good

States announced interim emergency waivers to their telehealth laws soon after the HHS’ Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) made a decision to widen telehealth services access and expand coverage in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Healthcare companies and patients have accepted the adjustments to telehealth guidelines, which upgraded access to telehealth services to handle the spread of the COVID-19. There were escalating requests for making the changes fixed, and various states including Colorado, Massachusets, and Idaho have taken action to make certain the modifications proceed when the COVID-19 public health emergencyends.

On March 16, 2020, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) passed a new policy that declares an identical standard of care can be applied to in-person and telehealth consultations and a face-to-face setting isn’t a pre-requisite for a telehealth consultation. The policy was presented on a non permanent basis to respond to COVID-19, however on June 26, 2020, the new policy is irreversible as per BORIM. This is the very first telehealth-centered policy that BORIM followed and Massachusetts was one of the first states which acted on getting the COVID-19 telehealth policies irreversible.

At the national level, there were escalating demands to make the telehealth services access fixed and to go on with reimbursement parity for in-person and online visits even when the COVID-19 countrywide public health emergency is finished.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma has stated support for expanding telehealth services. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) lately conducted a meeting and talked about the 30+ short-term modifications to Federal telehealth policies. The Senate Committee subsequently advised Congress to fix a few of the changes. There is a normally held viewpoint that telehealth could better patient results, help providers give a better patient care, and that telehealth could help lower the price of healthcare provision.

Two Federal policy adjustments that have pulled in substantial support are the easing of the Medicare originating site criteria to enable medical professionals to deliver telehealth services to all patients, irrespective of their location, and growing the number of telehealth services permitted under Medicare.

These and some other policies alterations have obtained support at the state level. A few other states have already taken action to boost telehealth access. This week, Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, approved a bill that removed the prerequisite by medical insurance providers that a patient must have a pre-established association with a virtual care giver. The rules, which are applicable to Medicaid and state-governed health plans, additionally forbids insurance providers from imposing supplemental location, accreditation, or licensure conditions on providers before giving telehealth reimbursement and the constraints on the technology that could be utilized to give telehealth services were at the same time taken away. Audio or video correspondence solutions simply should be in compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule.

Idaho Governor Brad Little has in the same way taken action to make the COVID-19 adjustments to telehealth rules permanent, which include the state’s short-term telehealth policy waivers that expanded the drugs that can be prescribed in telehealth appointments, the increasing of the technology that could be employed for giving telehealth services, and the shift that permits out-of-state doctors to offer virtual patient treatments.

All states broadened telehealth services access for Medicaid beneficiaries subsequent to the CMS announcement regarding the enlargement of access to telehealth and heightened coverage. More and more states are presently predicted to make emergency changes for good. Nonetheless, health insurance providers need to also make changes and affirm that they are going to continue to compensate doctors for virtual appointments at the same fee as in-person appointments, if not it is probable that telehealth access will be ditched and have in-person visits exclusively.

Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth Hernandez is the editor of HIPAA News section of HIPAA Coach and an experienced journalist in the healthcare sector. She specializes in healthcare and HIPAA compliance, making her a go-to source for information on healthcare regulations. Her work focuses on the importance of patient privacy and secure information handling. Elizabeth also has a postgraduate degree in journalism. Follow on Twitter: You can follow Elizabeth on twitter at