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Regulation and Compliance > State Regulation

State lawmakers deliberate on telemedicine policy

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State lawmakers who work on insurance issues are talking about how states should regulate insurance reimbursement for medical services provided over the telephone, or through a computer.

New York state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill recently said that the National Conference of Insurance Legislators should consider setting separate rules for at least three major categories of telemedicine services:

    • Telemedicine for remote, underserved areas;
    • Efforts to give patients easier access to highly regarded health care providers; and
    • Telemedicine clinics that can help patients with everyday health problems.

The New Paltz, New York, Democrat is the chairman of the NCOIL Health, Long-Term Care and Retirement Committee.

He talked about the telemedicine issue at an NCOIL meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, in February, and again during a teleconference meeting in June.

NCOIL, which is based in Manasquan, New Jersey, put summaries of the discussions in a packet of documents for its summer meeting. The group started the three-day meeting in Portland, Oregon on Thursday.

Related: NCOIL holds spring meeting under new leadership team

The Chicago-based American Medical Association has pushed for states to require patients to get in-person visits in some situations, and to require that any physician treating a patient through a telemedicine service be licensed in the patient’s state. 

Critics of the association’s approach say the requirements could prop up the cost of medical services by limiting interstate physician competition. Seventeen states have tried to counteract that argument by joining a telemedicine licensing compact. The compact is supposed to give telemedicine physicians licensed in one state quick access to licenses in the other member states.

Cahill said during the June teleconference meeting that he would like to shift away from the medical association’s approach and look harder at what individual states have already done about telemedicine issues.

During the in-person meeting in February, committee members talked about state efforts to regulate parity between the cost of in-person medical services and comparable telemedicine services.

David Korsh, a representative from the Chicago-based Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said the Blues oppose state efforts to set firm reimbursement parity requirements.


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