Pursuant to action taken at the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians’ Board of Directors meeting on March 31, OAFP President Stan Anderson, MD, sent a letter to the chair of the House Finance Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chair Mark J. Romanchuk expressing the Academy’s support for the telemedicine coverage policy included in House Bill 166, the state budget bill.
Dr. Anderson’s letter states, “Telemedicine is a key innovation in health care delivery, and is being used in initiatives to improve access to care, to facilitate coordination and quality, and to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending.”
The letter continues, “Thirty-five other states have passed laws providing coverage for telemedicine services. The language included in HB 166 better aligns Ohio by requiring health benefit plans to cover telemedicine services to the same extent that the plan covers in-person health care. It also prohibits a health benefit plan from imposing any annual or cumulative lifetime benefit for telemedicine services other than participation in a “benefit maximum” imposed on all benefits offered under that plan. In addition, the bill will prohibit a health benefit plan from excluding coverage for a service solely because it is a telemedicine service.”
It should be noted that coverage parity is different from pay parity and the included language in HB 166 only deals with coverage parity. The language as is will still require a physician to negotiate a reimbursement rate with the insurer.
The letter concludes, “We must provide opportunities for telemedicine reimbursement if we want to realize the potential growth opportunities that telemedicine services can provide. We applaud the efforts of the administration and ask the House to keep the language in the bill. Your efforts will ensure that telemedicine in Ohio can be fully utilized and that barriers to access to care continue to be removed.”
Hearings on the telemedicine provisions in HB 166 began on April 11.