Four States Pass Legislation To Expand Telehealth Services

The state Senators of Alabama, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania have all discussed or adopted regulations for telehealth services. For example, Alabama’s approved bill mandates that a doctor delivering telehealth medical treatment must be as attentive, thorough, and careful as if rendering the service in person. This means that patients can access remote care without first having met the provider. However, if a patient requires more than four virtual care appointments for the same issue without it being solved, then the doctor must make an in-person visit within a year. This bill has now been sent to the Alabama House for consideration. 

On March 31, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed nine pieces of legislation into law, including one that deals with virtual care delivery. This bill prohibits professional licensure boards from stopping healthcare providers credentialed in Kentucky from providing telehealth to Kentuckians who are temporarily located outside of the state. Additionally, it bars professional licensure boards from preventing the delivery of telehealth services to nonresidents temporarily in Kentucky by providers credentialed in their state of residence. Furthermore, state agencies governing telehealth can not require any prior authorization, medical review, or administrative clearance for telehealth that would not be necessary if the service were provided in person. 

Rep. Tina Pickett has proposed a bill to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would replace the 50 percent on-site psychiatric care requirement with telehealth services. Pickett stated that the implementation of this bill would enable outpatient psychiatric clinics to better address the increasing demand for their services, as well as the shortage of on-site psychiatric time in the Commonwealth, by allowing treatment to be conducted virtually. In addition, the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives are currently considering a bill that would enable the state to join the interstate Counseling Compact. This would enable New Hampshire residents to receive mental healthcare virtually from providers licensed in other states that are members of the compact. So far, 8 states have joined the compact and 15 states have pending legislation. This bill, if passed, would expand access to virtual counseling for behavioral health issues.