WASHINGTON— The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) today released an update to two reports regarding state telemedicine policies. The first state report identifies gaps in coverage and reimbursement, while the second report provides a state-level, gaps analysis of physician practice standards and licensure.
“These reports provide an important barometer for gauging how each state is performing,” stated Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “The first step to ensuring that sound policy leads to better health care delivery is to understand where gaps in policy exist today and what to do about them.”
50 State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis – Coverage & Reimbursement
The Coverage and Reimbursement Report compared telemedicine adoption for every state in the U.S. based on 13 indicators. Since the initial report was released in September 2014, there are more states now with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade including Iowa which improved from an ‘F’ to ‘B’. Overall, 11 states and DC have adopted policies that improved coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine-provided services while Maryland and New Hampshire have adopted policies further restricting coverage. In recent months Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, and Oklahoma have improved their grades suggesting a supportive policy landscape that encourages telemedicine adoption. Despite the adoption of a private insurance parity law earlier this year, Connecticut, like Rhode Island, continues to average the lowest composite score.
50 State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis – Physician Practice Standards & Licensure
The Physician Standards and Licensure Report reviewed state laws and medical board standards. Since the first version of this report in September 2014, medical boards have moved towards a trend to impose different regulations or guidance for medical practice via telemedicine when compared to in-person practice. As a result of incongruent guidance and regulation for telemedicine more states have dropped a letter grade than those that have improved since 2014.
The report revealed variance from the May 2015 version. Alabama made a significant improvement by repealing their telemedicine rules and observing medical practice parity standards regardless of the delivery method. Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, South Carolina, and Virginia dropped from an ‘A’ to ‘B’ as a result of adopted language that enforces different standards for telemedicine compared to in-person practice. With policy changes made to accommodate out-of-state physician-to-physician consultations via telemedicine, Michigan and South Dakota improved to an 'A'. Arkansas joins Texas as the only states with the lowest composite score.
Both reports, including research methodology and state-specific report cards, are available for download here.