Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Some state policies are making it difficult for telemedicine to reach rural patients
"Some states require that patients be accompanied by a health professional during telemedicine sessions," Ollove writes. "Hawaii, Indiana and Ohio limit Medicaid coverage to patients who live a minimum distance from their providers. Another significant hurdle is the requirement that doctors be licensed in every state where they practice medicine, digitally or otherwise. Because of those barriers, telemedicine advocates say, the elderly, the infirm, the isolated and the busy are being denied full access to needed health care."
The American Telemedicine Association said that 29 states "have parity laws that require private insurers to pay for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person services," Ollove writes. In every state except Connecticut and Rhode Island "Medicaid programs offer at least some coverage for telemedicine." But "about half of state Medicaid programs require that a patient be in some sort of medical facility during telemedicine encounters, rather than at home."
Advocates of telemedicine "say it is not an inferior form of medicine but a vehicle for extending quality health care to more places," Ollove writes. They argue that policies hampering telemedicine are largely "motivated by fear of competition among more traditional practitioners." (Read more)