Trending in Telehealth is a series from the McDermott digital health team in which we highlight state legislative and regulatory developments that impact healthcare providers, telehealth and digital health companies, pharmacists, and technology companies that deliver and facilitate virtual care.
Trending in the past week:
- Forensic Examinations
- Telehealth Flexibilities
A CLOSER LOOK
Finalized Legislation and Rulemaking
- Florida passed legislation (SB 218) amending Fla. Stat. Ann. § 456.47 to revise the definition of “telehealth provider” to include persons licensed as genetic counselors. By way of background, in 2021, the Florida legislature created a new licensed and regulated profession—genetic counseling. SB 218 is likely one of several pieces of legislation that will incorporate the newly created profession into existing regulatory frameworks.
- Minnesota enacted legislation (SF 2744) allowing telehealth to factor into the network adequacy assessments required to be performed by health carriers under Minnesota’s insurance laws. Minnesota also enacted appropriations legislation (SF 2995) that, among other things, allocates money for a study of telehealth expansion and payment parity in 2024.
- Nevada passed legislation (AB 276) amending Nev. Rev. Stat. § 629.515 to authorize a provider who is conducting certain forensic medical examinations on an apparent victim of sexual assault or strangulation to use telehealth to connect to an appropriately trained physician, physician assistant or registered nurse to obtain instructions and guidance on conducting the examination.
- West Virginia’s legislation requiring hospitals to have a trained healthcare provider available, or transfer agreement as provided in a county plan, to complete a sexual assault forensic examination (SB 89) became effective May 21, 2023, 90 days after its passage. “Available” includes having access to a trained sexual assault forensic examination expert via telehealth.
Legislation and Rulemaking Activity in Proposal Phase
- Illinois progressed legislation (SB 2123) in the second chamber that would adopt the Counseling Compact.
- Texas continued to progress legislation (HB 1771) in the second chamber that would require that each agency with regulatory authority over a health professional providing a telemedicine medical service, teledentistry or telehealth to adopt rules necessary to standardize formats for and retention of records related to a patient’s consent to treatment, data collection and data sharing.
- Texas also progressed legislation (HB 617) in the second chamber that would establish a pilot project to provide emergency medical services instruction and emergency prehospital care instruction through a telemedicine medical service or telehealth service provided by regional trauma resource centers to healthcare providers in rural trauma facilities and emergency medical services providers in rural areas.
Why it matters:
- Telehealth capabilities can reduce disparities in forensic examinations. States continue to progress legislation aiming to decrease disparities in the quality of forensic examinations by providing expert, live, interactive quality control and evidence-based methodologies to less experienced providers. Proponents argue that partnering on-site staff with telehealth experts ensures best practices, proper evidence collection and better patient experiences.
- COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities are here to stay. Many states are progressing legislation that will permanently enact telehealth flexibilities originally passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a corollary to this legislation, states are also progressing legislation to extend such flexibilities to newly licensed and regulated provider groups.
Telehealth is an important development in care delivery, but the regulatory patchwork is complicated.