Last Wednesday in Tallahassee, Florida, a senate committee unanimously approved a bill on telehealth, focused on permitting doctors and healthcare providers using telehealth technology to provide healthcare directly to patients. Florida Senators Aaron Bean and Fernandina Beach worked tirelessly on five drafts of the bill, and in its success, it has earned the joke “fifth time’s the charm!” This appears to be true for the statewide legislation on telehealth, opening up doors for the up-and-coming healthcare industry.
The bill was created by a committee of 15 Florida senators who worked with a Telehealth Advisory Council that had made many recommendations toward the legislation. A majority of these recommendations have been implemented into the legislation, like the requirement that health-care practitioners providing virtual care must be licensed. Intuitive changes like these as well as creating legislation with license requirements and overall regulations allows the telemedicine field to become a more legitimate and trustworthy healthcare sector.
This new telehealth measure bans using telemedicine platforms as a median to prescribe controlled substances for treating chronic pain, and will not allow patients to be certified for medical marijuana treatment virtually. These changes will undoubtedly be a benefit to many speculators of telemedicine who worry that increasing access to care will also increase access to, and abuse of, controlled substances.
Lastly, the bill requires equal insurance coverage and provider reimbursements for both in-person care as well as virtual care through telehealth. This is another win for the telehealth community, as a huge concern is whether insurance companies will cover virtual visits and remote care options. This has been a deterrent for both providers and patients in the past and the new bill will help increase healthcare access throughout Florida State.
While no two states are alike when it comes to telehealth legislation, many are working with legislation that will provide equal coverage for both in person and virtual visits. 2018 continues to prove to be a year of success for telehealth and we at Clocktree are excited for what is to come!