After months of deliberation and advocating from multiple parties, it appears that Florida’s policies concerning telehealth – and more importantly, reimbursements for these services – are finally moving in the right direction.
Case in point, Florida Legislature passed a bill earlier this month advocating for commercial insurance to cover telehealth services provided in the state. Interestingly, while the bill does not mandate full commercial coverage, it does form a committee to assess how the state can best improve patient access to telehealth moving forward.
Formally named “The Telehealth Advisory Council,” the newly formed group will attempt to identify the current state of Florida’s telehealth services and which insurers are paying providers for it. In essence, the council is supposed to provide a snapshot that officials can then use to increase adoption of this technology.
The new bill, and by extension, The Telehealth Advisory Council, will primarily accomplish the following:
- Investigate how many commercial health plans are covering telehealth services in Florida and the extent of coverage, as well as the reimbursement rates being paid to providers;
- Fine and penalize providers and insurers that refuse to report this information;
- Deliver a report to the Governor and the Legislature containing policy recommendations to increase the use and accessibility of telehealth services, as well as eliminate any existing barriers.
Since the report is due December 1, 2018, it will be quite some time until we see the findings from the bill manifest into tangible policies. However, the message to all parties is clear: Telehealth is a crucial medical service and Florida is committed to paying doctors who provide it.
It’s hard to imagine a legislative effort like this– let alone a Telehealth Council– being approved as recently as a few years ago, and as such, Florida’s actions are truly indicative of healthcare’s growing acceptance of patient engagement technology. With this in mind, Wellbox applauds the efforts of our in-state peers to help patients receive the medical care they deserve, whether it is delivered in the office, at home, or anywhere in-between.