Health Policy Round Up 10.16.19


On October 13th, Governor Newsom signed six telehealth-related bills that will impact telehealth expansion throughout California. Among the signed bills is A.B. 744, which requires telehealth payment parity for commercial payers by January 1, 2021. Newsom also signed A.B. 1264, which allows providers to use telehealth to conduct examinations prior to prescribing, dispensing or furnishing drugs so long as the examination meets the standard of care. This strengthens the legal foundation needed to ensure the growth of telehealth to provide t right care at the right time in the right place.
Other developments across the country underscore the continual growth of telehealth for care delivery. Large employers, such as Amazon, are expanding telehealth benefits and in addition government-funded health services are making efforts to provide telehealth services in non-traditional settings, such as schools and prisons.

Legislative & Regulatory Developments


California Legislature — Bills Signed by Governor Newsom

AB 744 Telehealth payment parity for commercial payers

  • Requires commercial payers to reimburse network providers for any covered service provided through telehealth at the same rate as comparable services provided in person. Medi-Cal managed care plans are exempted from this requirement
  • Affects contracts issued, amended or renewed on or after January 1, 2021.


A.B. 1264: Prescribing via telehealth

  • Specifies that synchronous interactions through telehealth can be used to conduct appropriate examinations prior to prescribing, dispensing or furnishing drugs, so long as the provider complies with the standard of care


A.B. 1494: Medi-Cal telehealth reimbursement in emergencies

  • Removes any face-to-face or patient physical presence requirements in order for a community health center to receive reimbursement for telehealth or telephonic services provided during a state of emergency.
  • Required DHCS to obtain any federal approvals (i.e., State Plan Amendment) to implement this law


AB 1519: Teledentistry professional responsibilities, conduct and standards of practice

  • Specifies that all dentistry laws related to standard of care apply to care provided through telehealth
  • Dentists providing services through telehealth must provide their name, telephone number, practice address and state license number to patients


AB 1642: HCS approval, EQRO review of alternative access plans including telehealth; enforcement and contract recission for noncompliance with network adequacy standards.


SB 24: College health center access to medical abortion, including via telehealth, and telehealth startup funding

  • Allots each UC and CSU campus $200,000 to pay for the startup costs related to the mandate to provide medication abortion at student health centers
  • Startup funds can be allocated to enable telehealth services


California Legislature — Bills Vetoed by Governor Newsom

AB 848: Medi-Cal coverage of continuous glucose monitors

  • Would have required DHCS to add continuous blood glucose monitors as a benefit in the Medi-Cal program


Other States

Pennsylvania legislators introduce new telehealth legislation The Telemedicine Act (SB 857) aims to establish definitions for telemedicine and telehealth, provide temporary evaluation and treatment guidelines and ground rules for reimbursement, and give state departments up to two years to draft permanent rules and regulations. Read the text of the bill here.


News Articles, Research & Reports

Behavioral Health

How Millennials and Gen Z address health issues with digital tools On October 17th, the president and CEO of HopeLab Margaret Laws will deliver a keynote address at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference entitled “How Digital Natives are Changing Digital Health.”. During her talk, she will explore how the “lifestyles, expectations and perspectives” of Millennials and Gen Z, which make up more than 50% of the U.S. population, are changing the landscape of digital health. Read more here.


Amazon Care App to feature telehealth Amazon Care is a mobile app that currently provides Seattle-based Amazon employees with access to virtual healthcare services from Oasis Medical Group, including video visits and text chats with providers. Read more in The Verge’s coverage here.

Health Systems

Henry Ford Health’s remote patient monitoring program saw 45% drop in ED readmission rate Henry Ford’s remote patient monitoring program, called e-Home Care, provides enrolled patients with a tablet loaded with mHealth applications and Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices. For patients with chronic health issues or those recovering from cardiothoracic or transplant surgery, the wireless devices gather biometric data and send it to care teams. Read more in the press release


Humana and Seniorlink launch telehealth for seniors The program, which provides telehealth access to 250 MA members, is designed for seniors with chronic health concerns and other functional challenges and is focused on keeping them out of assisted living facilities and in their own homes. Read the press release here.

CVS to turn stores into HealthHUBs CVS is renovating 1,500 of its stores into HealthHUBs to focus more on health services, including a tech-enabled healthcare within brick-and-mortar clinics. Read the press release here.


American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) endorses interstate medical licensing compact At its recent National Congress, AAFP voted to lobby states to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and encourage their legislatures to adopt interstate licensure. Read the press release here.

Providers and life sciences companies do not believe that health tech developers understand the complexities of the digital health market In a recent survey, three in five respondents highlighted longstanding business and reimbursement practices as a clear roadblock for digital health products going to market. In addition, a lack of demonstrated value by health tech developers has created a long “pause” in the establishment of healthcare partnerships between developers and providers. Read the report here.

State Innovations

Incarcerated women in Kentucky access opioid treatment via telehealth The University of Kentucky will receive an $8.8 million grant from NIDA to create the Kentucky Women’s Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network. The connected health program is designed to give these women access to treatment as they transition out of prison and back into their communities. Read the press release here.

Nevada health centers to bring telehealth to schools Nevada Health Centers (FQHC) will provide telemedicine carts to almost 40 schools in three Nevada counties using $1 million in state funds. Read more here