BluePath Health Blog
At BluePath Health, we closely monitor digital health and telehealth policy, trends and news developments. Our policy Round Up blog reviews both state and federal legislative policy movement, recaps relevant news and research, and lists funding opportunities for telehealth adoption. Our blog also focuses on significant trends and developments in health technology that enable payment reform strategies and care delivery transformation.
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During this week’s budget hearings California’s state legislature agreed to expand Medi-Cal to allow the enrollment of undocumented young adults under the age of 26. The budget also includes a mandated fine for uninsured individuals that will be used to fund insurance premium subsidies. Details on elements of the budget that impact health policy will be delivered after the budget passes on June 15th.read more
June 5, 2019 — California suffers from the brunt of the opioid crisis as overdose death tolls continue to climb. While the deaths from prescription opioid overdoses have declined each year since 2014, heroin and synthetic opioids have pushed the total number of deaths up to from 2,031 in 2016 to 2,199 in 2017. To address this on-going crisis, California is expanding access to buprenorphine, one of the most effective therapies for opioid addiction. Today, the state’s safety net population have access buprenorphine through several programs, some of which include telehealth services within their offerings.read more
AB-744, a bill that would establish telehealth payment parity for all California payers, was passed by the Assembly and has moved on to the Senate.read more
During third week of May, legislative appropriations committees met to vote on bills with a fiscal impact. Among the bills that made it out of the committee were several that impact telehealth services in California health plans and programs, including AB 744 that would require payment parity for telehealth services by health insurers and plans. The Governor of New Mexico signed a similar payment parity bill this year and Texas legislators just sent a payment parity bill to the Governor’s desk for consideration.read more
The opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc on America’s communities.To battle this on-going crisis, companies are developing and offering solutions that combine in-person care and digital tools to connect patients with the treatment they need and enable providers and health systems to identify and treat opioid abuse problems as they arise. These offerings bring leading-edge technologies, including digital health tools, telehealth platforms, computer-aided decision systems and data analytics, to providers and patients to bring the opioid epidemic to its knees.read more
On May 9th, Governor Newsom released his revised proposal for the state budget, which includes $20 million to support a five-year expansion of the state’s Whole Person Care pilots and $98 million to expand Medi-Cal to all undocumented, uninsured individuals up to age 25. These revisions reflect Governor Newsom’s emphasis on improving Califonia’s access to mental health services.read more
May 10, 2019 — Telehealth and other digital health tools are being promoted and supported publicly by global and governmental bodies. A new WHO Guideline reviews telehealth and digital health tools’ global effectiveness and affordability and U.S. government agency reports and grants support telehealth for effective healthcare delivery.read more
This week we review state legislation and proposed regulations that acknowledge telehealth as a network adequacy standard for health plans. Several state, including California, are determining how plans will account for telehealth provider networks as they try to meet access standards with telehealth access. In the coming weeks, several California bills affecting telehealth are slated to be heard by the Appropriations Committees.read more
This week in Sacramento many telehealth-related bills related made their way out of the Assembly Health Committee on to Appropriations. In particular, AB 744 which would establish payment parity for telehealth services, made it out of Senate Health. However, the bill faces uncertainty due to health plan opposition and a California Health Benefits Review Program analysis which estimates of a total increase in health care costs of $278.2M if the bill passes. Bill advocates may maintain confidence, however, as New Mexico’s governor just signed the state’s own payment parity bill.read more
This March, an RFI from the bipartisan Congressional Telehealth Caucus asked stakeholders for input on how telehealth and remote patient monitoring could expand access, improve outcomes, reduce costs, and be used more effectively. The current federal statute, which addresses telehealth in the Medicare FFS program, imposes barriers to broader telehealth adoption. Submitted RFI responses include requests ranging from broader coverage of telehealth to specific tweaks to Medicare.read more