For years, telehealth was the focus of litigation between the Texas Medical Board and Teladoc targeted at online prescribing regulation, administrative rulemaking procedures and accusations of anticompetitive behavior. In fact, until 2017, Texas required an in-person visit to establish a patient-provider relationship. Flash forward to 2019, however, and the state has passed several telehealth-related bills that now bring telehealth’s benefits to children’s mental health, members of Medicaid managed care plans and behavioral healthcare delivery.
On June 13th, Governor Newsom signed a $215 billion budget, the largest budget in California’s history. In addition to expanded allocations for housing and education, lawmakers and the Governor agreed on two key healthcare spending increases: expanded Medi-Cal coverage to include undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 and allocated funding for additional Covered California subsidies. In addition to taking steps towards universal coverage for Californians, these big ticket healthcare priorities may impact the spread of telehealth and other health IT initiatives.
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.
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.
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.