One of the biggest challenges to adopting telehealth technologies is getting reimbursed for delivering treatment services. To get a sense of the current policy landscape across the United States, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) reviewed telemedicine policies in 50 states and examined 13 indicators related to coverage and reimbursement (three indicators for health plan parity and 10 for Medicaid payment) in each state, addressing two important questions:
This examination of the numerous payment and service delivery options is available in a new publication from ATA, 50 State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis: Coverage and Reimbursement. Findings revealed that seven states have policies in place that support the adoption of telemedicine, whereas policies in three states suggest many barriers and little opportunity for telemedicine advancement (Figure 1).
The good news is that the number of states with telemedicine parity laws, which require private insurers to cover telemedicine-provided services comparable to that of in-person services, has doubled over the past three years.
The National Frontier and Rural ATTC examined ATA’s published results specific to telemental health, which according to the ATA telemental health practice guidelines “consists of the practice of mental health specialties at a distance using video-conferencing, and includes mental health assessments, substance abuse treatment, counseling, medication management, education, monitoring, and collaboration.” In terms of what this means for the behavioral health/substance use disorders workforce,
It is important to remember that telemedicine policies vary from state to state based on a number of factors such as service coverage, payment methodology, distance requirements, eligible patient populations and health care providers, authorized technologies, and patient consent. As such, this information is provided as a reference only and not intended to serve as legal advice. Legal counsel should be consulted as appropriate.
Source: Thomas, L. & Capistrant, G. (2014). 50 state telemedicine gaps analysis: Coverage and reimbursement. American Telemedicine Association. Available on line at [http://www.americantelemed.org/docs/default-source/policy/50-state-telemedicine-gaps-analysis---coverage-and-reimbursement.pdf?sfvrsn=6]
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