RCPA has been collaborating with the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and other statewide health care associations on Senate Bill 780 (SB 780). SB 780 establishes the Telemedicine Act, which will authorize health care providers to use telemedicine and require insurers to provide coverage and reimbursement for its use (a detailed summary of the bill can be found here).
Currently, SB 780 is in jeopardy. The bill, which was unanimously approved by two Senate committees, the full Senate, and the House Professional Licensure Committee, could die before a House vote is taken. The Insurance Federation is strongly advocating against the bill with rank and file members and leadership. They assert the bill provides opportunities for fraud and lower quality of care.
Between today and the weekend, it is imperative that supporters of this bill contact their House members directly and ask them to “Tell House Speaker Mike Turzai to bring the bill up for a vote in the House without amendment on Monday, October 1.” This is our final opportunity to secure passage of a bill that will expand access to health care for all Pennsylvanians by requiring insurers to pay for telemedicine services if they pay for the same service in person.
If the bill is not voted in the House, we will have to introduce a new bill during 2019, the beginning of a new legislative session, ending nearly two years of advocacy on this critical issue.
Again, between today and the weekend, it is imperative that supporters of the bill contact House members directly and ask them to “Tell House Speaker Mike Turzai to bring the bill up for a vote without amendment in the House on Monday, October 1.”
Here are the top talking points to support the main message:
- We want consistency in payment from insurers (We are not directing how to negotiate rates);
- 38 states have some type of law requiring this coverage;
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has said more must be done to expand payment for telemedicine services and lessen restriction for patient access;
- The bill will ensure greater access for primary and specialty care;
- Fewer people will have to travel if they are isolated, older, or without transportation (especially in rural and urban areas);
- It will expand the reach of care to people with opioid use disorder and behavioral health needs;
- It will help providers manage patients’ chronic conditions and avoid hospital admissions or readmissions;
- It will help schools address physical and behavioral health issues; and
- Help caregivers of elderly or seriously ill patients.
There are already protections in place to ensure appropriate care is provided through telemedicine. Providers are governed by state licensing boards, follow a medical code of ethics, and there are strong insurance fraud laws in place to protect against such behavior.
Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.