Last week, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued its yearly reports of telemedicine coverage, reimbursement, and standards across the country. In general, telemedicine has consistently become an accepted tool by patients, providers, and third-party payers in all states, with improved coverage and reimbursement in several states. Some state legislatures are removing restrictive requirements for physician practice standards, even allowing them to practice telemedicine across state lines.
Since 2014, the ATA has released annual state-by-state assessments of their payment policies and practice standards; a letter grade is assigned to each state based on these analyses. This year, the ATA noted significant strides in some regions, such as Rhode Island and Connecticut, both of whom jumped from “F” to “B” by improving coverage and reimbursement, but found stagnation in other areas, such as Washington, D.C., Delaware, and South Carolina.
Despite the few downgraded states, the overall outlook for telemedicine is positive:
- The number of states with parity laws has doubled over the last five years, now numbering over 30.
- All states allow the coverage of telemedicine to some extent.
- For the first time, all Medicaid agencies now cover telemedicine in some form.
- Twenty-six states cover telemedicine under state employee health plans.
- Thirty-four states do not require a healthcare professional to be with a patient during a telemedicine visit, which paves the way for clinicians to monitor patients remotely in a home health setting.
- And 18 states have joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which is expected to grant crossborder licenses in the near future, thus removing the requirement that the physician be licensed in the state in which the patient resides.