Health Policy Round Up 5.21.19


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.


Legislative/Regulatory Developments


Funding Opportunities

Legislative/Regulatory Developments



AB 744 (bill): Would establish payment parity for telehealth for all payers. 

  • passed Assembly Appropriations with amendments regarding compliance

AB 848 (bill): Would require Medi-Cal coverage of blood glucose monitors.

  • passed Assembly Appropriations 

AB 1494 (bill): Would allow for FQHCs to provide services via telehealth during emergencies without prior in-person visit.

  • passed Assembly Appropriations with minor clarifying amendments

AB 1642 (bill): Would require Medi-Cal MCPs to include certain additional information in requests for alternative access standards, including the use of telehealth in alternative access.

  • passed Assembly Appropriations with amendment to specify that DHCS will take compliance with access standards into account when setting capitation rates

AB 1676 (bill): Would require all health plans and insurers to cover provider-to-provider tele-mental health consultations via phone or video.

  • held in Assembly Appropriations

SB 24 (bill): Would earmark funds for UC, CSU and community college abortion programs, which may be used for telehealth program startup costs

  • passed Senate Appropriations


Other States

New Mexico SB 354Establishes payment parity for telehealth services in the state

  • signed by Governor April 4

Texas SB 670: requires state Medicaid agency to contract with managed care plans that will not deny claims from contracted providers solely because the services were not provided in-person


  • passed state Senate on 3/27 and House on 5/14 and sent to Governor for consideration


Providers Fusing Physical and Behavioral Health with Digital Tools With an increasing push to integrate traditionally siloed physical and behavioral health, providers are finding solutions that enable inclusion of behavioral health in the care continuum. New York-based Montefiore Health System has infused technology into its care journey by providing primary care patients with a behavioral health app. Read more at MedCity News.

Secure Texting: Potential Patient-to-Provider Communications Link A 2016 study of 35,000 providers revealed that 96% of patient complaints center on poor communications. Secure, HIPPA compliant texting is a potential solution for improving communications, particularly for younger patients who prefer texting over voice communications. Read more at MedCity News

UPMC Starts Telehealth Company Focused on E-Consults UPMC’s new telehealth start-up, called “ID Connect”, connects health systems and providers with UPMC’s infectious disease specialists for provider-to-provider consultations. The company’s aim is to address the nationwide shortage of infectious disease specialists, which is impacting care for increasing incidence of healthcare associated infections. Read more.

Funding Opportunities

NIH: Use of Technology to Enhance Patient Outcomes and Prevent Illness (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) NIH seeks proposals on the use of technologies, including remote healthcare, that improve patient outcomes. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.