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.
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.
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.