The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) released an update to two critical state policy reports that identified gaps in coverage and reimbursement, and physician practice standards and licensure. The reports, which capture the policy landscape of each state and Washington, DC, include research methodology and state-specific grades based on a series of indicators for each report.
For the first time since its inception in 2014, the Coverage and Reimbursement report shows that all Medicaid agencies cover some form of telemedicine. The report also highlights increasing state Medicaid trends for coverage of dental services and substance abuse treatment and counseling using telemedicine, as well as more coverage outside of traditional facilities and into homes and schools. In 2017, all states allow coverage of telemedicine to some degree compared to 24 states in 2005.
Seven states — including Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia — have adopted policies that improved coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine-provided services since the 2016 report, while Delaware, South Carolina and D.C. have either lowered telemedicine coverage or adopted policies further restricting telemedicine coverage.
"There is promising news overall for patients, providers, and businesses using telemedicine and other digital health platforms," Latoya Thomas, Director of the State Policy Resource Center at ATA, said in a statement. "These reports show that insurers, state lawmakers and Medicaid agencies see telemedicine, and other digital health platforms, as affordable and convenient solutions to bridge the provider shortage gap and enhance access to quality health care services."
The Physician Standards and Licensure report, on the other hand, has found that states are removing unnecessary requirements and embracing telemedicine as an appropriate way to deliver medical services nationwide. This report is indicative of increased adoption of telemedicine, providing healthcare practitioners increased opportunities to practice across state lines. As a result, states like Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana have made significant improvements for health providers, while Texas continues to earn the lowest grade in the nation.