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Trending in Telehealth: May 2– 8, 2023
Saturday, May 13, 2023

Trending in Telehealth is a series from the McDermott digital health team in which we highlight state legislative and regulatory developments that impact healthcare providers, telehealth and digital health companies, pharmacists and technology companies that deliver and facilitate virtual care.

Trending in the past week:

  • Maternal Health

  • Licensure/Prescription Flexibilities

  • Interstate Compacts

A CLOSER LOOK

Finalized Legislation & Rulemaking Highlights:

  • Georgia enacted SB 106 also known as the Healthy Babies Act. The legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Caucus Senator Larry Walker III, creates a three-year pilot program for remote maternal health services via the Georgia Department of Community Health. Beginning in FY 2024, the program will provide remote monitoring for pregnant women under the state’s Medicaid program. State legislators prioritized this bill in an effort to increase benefits for at-risk mothers in underserved rural communities. The program’s expanded benefits aim to encourage expecting mothers to utilize prenatal care.

  • Montana enacted legislation, SB 112, creating a new section related to a pharmacist’s prescribing authority exception. The exception states that a pharmacist may prescribe a drug or device for a legitimate medical purpose, as allowed under this section, for a person with whom the pharmacist has a patient-prescriber relationship. Supporters of the bill cited access-to-care hurdles for rural communities that could otherwise be overcome by allowing pharmacists to serve as a point of first contact. The bill, modeled after similar legislation passed in Idaho, will allow patients to be treated for certain minor conditions without having to visit a doctor’s office. Montana also enacted legislation (SB 214) to enact the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Compact and Occupational Therapy Compact (SB 155).

  • Oklahoma enacted legislation, SB 754, authorizing licensed dentists to allow teledentistry treatment by certain dental hygienists for patients in certain long-term care settings.

Legislation Rulemaking Activity in Proposal Phase Highlights:

  • Florida progressed legislation, HB 267, that would eliminate the explicit exclusion of audio-only telephone calls from the definition of telehealth in Florida’s telehealth practice standards. Florida also progressed legislation, HB 5101, that would allow the use of telehealth as a way to provide mental-health services in school locations.

  • Missouri progressed legislation in the second chamber , SB 70, that would adopt the interstate Counseling Compact for professional counselors.

  • New York progressed legislation out of the second chamber and delivered to the governor A 3004, which provides funding for regional perinatal care centers or other health providers to establish telehealth applications.

  • South Carolina progressed legislation, S 610, to the first chamber, that would enact the Counseling Compact.

  • Texas progressed legislation to the first chamber, HB 1771, that would require that each agency with regulatory authority over a health professional providing telemedicine, teledentistry or telehealth services adopt rules necessary to standardize formats for, and retention of, records related to a patient’s consent to: (i) treatment, (ii) data collection and (iii) data sharing. Texas also progressed legislation to the second chamber, SB 2557, that would enact the Licensed Professional Counselors Compact.

  • Washington proposed rulemaking with respect to medical assistants to expressly define what constitutes “telemedicine supervision.” Telemedicine would mean “the delivery of direct patient care under supervision by a health care practitioner provided through the use of interactive audio and video technology, permitting real-time communication between a medical assistant at the originating site and a health care practitioner off premises.” The term would not include “the use of audio-only telephone, facsimile, or email.” Interested parties may submit written comments to: Becky McElhiney, DOH, P.O. Box 47852, Olympia, WA 98504-7852, email medical.assistants@doh.wa.gov, fax 360-236-2850, https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/policyreview, by May 24, 2023.

Why it matters:

  • States continue to address maternal healthcare via telehealth. The enacted legislation in Georgia along with the proposed legislation in New York, indicates that states are looking to address the provision of maternal healthcare via telehealth, accounting for aspects such as prescribing limitations, increased regulatory burdens and maternal morbidity.

  • Interstate compact adoption remains high among states. Many states continue to progress legislation that would enact various licensure compacts across healthcare professions. Just this week,

  • Montana, Missouri and Texas took steps to adopt compacts that will ease licensure burdens, facilitate uniformity in curriculum between academic institutions and allow for reciprocity for professionals seeking to practice across state lines.

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