Legislative Update for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee
Give a big round of applause for Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. In the past three months all three states had telehealth legislation submitted in their legislatures. This information comes to us from the hard work of the new policy-focused telehealth resource center, the Center for Connected Health Policy. Here’s some of the wording from the Mississippi bill:

“…require health insurance plans in this state to provide coverage for telemedicine services to the same extent that the services would be covered if they were provided through in-person consultation…”.

Arkansas’ bill, which defines “telepractice and “telepractice services,”  is now Act 219.

These bills represent a huge step in getting long-term sustainability for telehealth practitioners. Reimbursement has long been one of the biggest obstacles in telehealth’s success. Reimbursement policies will give incentive to providers and help ween organizations from withering grant funds ultimately setting the stage for sustainability. As you can see this isn’t Democratic or Republican legislation. It looks to have broad support from both parties.

Mississippi

The bills were introduced by Toby Barker (R), House, and Terry Burton (R), Senate

Bill Status Description Updated Title
HB 904 2/27/13: Amended and passed the Senate Committee on Insurance An act to require insurance plans to provide coverage for telemedicine. (Similar to SB 2209) 2/28/13 AN ACT TO REQUIRE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS IN THIS STATE TO PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR TELEMEDICINE SERVICES TO THE SAME EXTENT THAT THE SERVICES WOULD BE COVERED IF THEY WERE PROVIDED THROUGH IN-PERSON CONSULTATION; TO DEFINE THE TERMS “HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN” AND “TELEMEDICINE”; TO AUTHORIZE HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONERS LICENSED IN THIS STATE TO PROVIDE TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS TO A PATIENT AFTER HAVING PERFORMED AN APPROPRIATE EXAMINATION OF THE PATIENT THROUGH TELEMEDICINE;…more
SB 2209 2/28/13: Passed the house, now goes to Senate for concurrence. An act to require insurance plans to provide coverage for telemedicine. (Similar to HB 904) 3/1/13  Same as above

Tennessee

The bills were introduced by Brenda Gilmore (D), House, and Ophelia Ford (D), Senate

Bill Status Description Updated Bill Summary
HB 923 2/13/13: Assigned to Insurance and Banking Subcommittee in House Requires reimbursement by health insurance policies of telemedicine (similar to TN SB 484) 3/5/13 This bill requires certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) to provide coverage under a health insurance policy or contract for health care services appropriately delivered through telemedicine. This bill prohibits any such entity from excluding from coverage a health care service solely because it is provided through telemedicine and is not provided through an in-person consultation or contact between a health care provider and a patient…more
SB 484  2/4/13: Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor Requires health insurance policies to cover telemedicine services. (similar to TN HB 923)  3/5/13  Same as above

 

Arkansas

The bill was introduced by Charlene Fite (R), House

Bill Status Description Updated Link
HB 1172 3/1/13: This bill has been enrolled and transmitted to Governor’s Office.  HB 1172 is now Act 219 This bill amends various sections of the law relating to the Board of Examiners in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology.  It defines “Telepractice” and “Telepractice Services”. 3/5/13 View bill