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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, while there were few telehealth and health IT legislative developments in California, other states initiated and/or voted on legislation for the creation of broadband offices and funding mechanisms to increase internet access, a critical component of telehealth’s success. In addition, two newly released surveys accentuate physicians’ growing telehealth adoption, another key element of telehealth’s success. An American Well survey reports a 340% growth rate of telehealth adoption among physicians between 2015 and 2018 and an American College of Physicians survey reveals that 51% of internists work in practices that use at least one form of telehealth.