New Hampshire Senate Passes Medicaid Telehealth Bill

April 2019 ~

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill expanding Medicaid coverage for telehealth services.

The bill, SB 258, outlines definitions for telehealth and telemedicine, establishes that a patient can receive those services at home, and, if finalized, would also enable the state’s Medicaid program to cover more connected care services. Previously New Hampshire had allowed telemedicine for medical specialists only.

SB 258 also specifies that primary care, remote patient monitoring and substance abuse disorder services “shall only be covered in the event that the patient has already established care at an originating site via face-to-face in-person service.”

SB 258 expands upon several of the state’s earlier legislation – which, in 2009, established parity, requiring public and private insurers to accept telemedicine as equivalent to in-person visits and in 2013 defined telemedicine services as the “use of audio, video, or other electronic media for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation, or treatment.”

According to state lawmakers, the bill is an effort to modernize the state and in-line with other states that are expanding guidelines for connected health technology.

“The technology is getting to the point we’re having real-time ability for patients to tap into physicians with expertise, and with doctors or nurses to tap into each other,” said Tom Sherman, a State Senator and practicing gastroenterologist, “It really allows much more ready access to your providers. You can access a patient for a wellness check all by telemedicine, so the patient doesn’t have to travel.”

A 2017 report by the Citizens Health Initiative f9und that the “industry has struggled to develop quality and operational standards that would allow patients and healthcare providers to better select telehealth and mHealth solutions.”

“You worry about fraud and abuse in a system that doesn’t require face-to-face encounters,” continued Sherman, “As we get more experience with telemedicine we’re going to be shaping the regulations to provide more safeguards, being careful that we are protecting patients and that the level of care is adequate.”

The bill will now move on to the House for a final vote.

Source(s): mHealthIntelligence; Fosters; Seacoast Online; American Telemedicine;