Bipartisan bill in Colorado Senate aims to shore up telehealth access

A bipartisan Colorado Senate bill with several provisions related to health care services provided through telehealth has been referred to the Appropriations Committee after passing in the Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs yesterday.

Among other provisions, SB 212 would prohibit health insurance carriers from imposing specific requirements or limitations on the technologies used to deliver telehealth services; requiring a covered person to have a previously established patient-provider relationship with a specific provider in order to receive medically necessary telehealth services; or imposing additional certification, location, or training requirements as a condition of reimbursement for telehealth services.

 

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Carriers would be required to cover medically necessary telehealth services as long as they are delivered on a HIPAA-compliant platform.

I would like to see telehealth more widely used,” Rep. Matt Soper, a prime sponsor of the bill, told the Colorado Spring Business Journal (CSBJ). “It’s not going to replace in-person visits because those have a time and a place, but it’s a great complementary piece to treating the whole patient. It respects the challenges some people face with transportation and allows safe, effective care. It’s just a win-win-win for patients, providers and the state.”

The bill’s prime sponsors are a bipartisan group: Sen. Faith Winter and Rep. Susan Lontine (Democrats), Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Matt Soper (Republicans).

The bill specifies that, to the extent the state board of health adopts rules addressing supervision requirements for home care agencies, the rules must allow for supervision in person or by telemedicine or telehealth.

The bill also includes provisions aimed directly at the Medicaid program.

Should the bill become law, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing would be required to reimburse rural health clinics, the federal Indian health service, and federally qualified health centers for telemedicine services provided to medicaid recipients and to do so at the same rate as the department reimburses those services when provided in person.

The legislation also specifies that health care and mental health care services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, hospice care, home health care, and pediatric behavioral health care.

According to CSBJ’s reporting, the bill is supported by a wide range of health care organizations and child and consumer advocates, such as the Colorado chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association, the Home Care and Hospice Association of Colorado, Colorado Rural Health Center, University of Colorado and the Colorado Children’s Campaign.