How to Influence Telehealth Policy at the State Level

Express Talk

April 14, 2019 | 3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CDT

State telehealth laws are fluid. The Washington State Telehealth Collaborative was formed through legislation in 2016 to provide a forum to improve the health of Washington residents through the collaboration and increasing public awareness of telehealth as a delivery mechanism. The Collaborative has a membership comprised of a wide-range of stakeholders, with various provider and health systems represented, payers, state legislators, and others. This variation in membership to ensure multiple perspectives are represented during policy-making discussions is critical to the success of influencing change at the state level. The state legislature looks to the Collaborative to advise on legislative changes to advance telehealth with the goal of increasing access to care. Washington has several laws related to telehealth, including coverage parity for private payers and Medicaid, and defining telehealth.

Participants in this session will learn how to find and assess current state laws to determine where language enhancements may be made to expand telehealth offerings. Some laws have unintentional operational consequences and can be edited to achieve the original spirit of the law. For example, the Collaborative reviewed the Washington law related to store and forward reimbursement by third-party payers. To be reimbursed for clinical services delivered through the store and forward telehealth modality, per Washington law there must be an associated office visit between the client and the referring health care provider. The requirement for an associated office visit between the client and the referring health care provider inhibits clinicians offering store and forward services. The Collaborative recommended removing this requirement for reimbursement from existing law.

In 2018, the Collaborative focused on three areas:

  1. training providers on telemedicine
  2. cost-effectiveness of telemedicine
  3. payment parity

This session will identify key sides of the discussion for each area and discuss the outcomes for telehealth laws in Washington.


  • Sarah Orth, Telehealth Senior Program Manager, Seattle Children’s Hospital