Health Policy Round Up 9.17.19


This week’s Round Up highlights seven telehealth-related bills that have made their way from the California state legislature to Governor Newsom’s desk where they are awaiting his signature or veto by October 13th.

In addition to establishing payment parity for telehealth, these bills establish and extend telehealth’s use and reimbursement. For example, if signed by the Governor, one bill will reimburse telehealth for delivering healthcare in emergency situations and another will allow its use for prescribing medications.

Legislative & Regulatory Developments

California Legislature

AB 744 Telehealth payment parity

  • Passed with amendments in Senate and Assembly 9/13. Sent to Governor.
  • Amended to include qualified autism service providers/professionals within scope; specifies that AB 744 does not affect network adequacy; payment parity would not apply to Medi-Cal managed care plans.


AB 848: Medi-Cal coverage of continuous glucose monitors

  • Passed Senate 9/4, Assembly 9/9. Sent to Governor.


A.B. 1264: Prescribing via telehealth

  • Passed Senate 9/2, Assembly 9/10. Sent to Governor.


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

  • Passed Senate 9/5, Assembly 9/9 with amendments. Sent to Governor.
  • Amended to require DHCS guidance by 7/1/2020.


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

  • Passed Senate 9/11, Assembly 9/13. Sent to Governor.


AB 1642: DHCS approval, EQRO review of alternative access plans including telehealth; consideration in capitation

  • Passed with amendments Senate 9/4, Assembly 9/9. Sent to Governor
  • Amended to specify that provision on alternative access reporting take affect for contract period commencing on or after 7/1/20; provisions allowing DHCS Director to terminate MCP contracts for good cause for noncompliance with network adequacy; specifies civil monetary sanctions that can be imposed for noncompliance.


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

  • Passed with amendments Assembly 9/13, Senate 9/13. Sent to Governor.
  • Amended to include additional TA on billing, training and reporting; legislative liaison role for state Commission on the Status on Women and Girls.


California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS)

In July 2019, DHCS released new provider manuals for Medi-Cal Fee-For-Service, RHCs/FQHCs, Family-PACT, the Indian Health Service and Local Education Agencies.

Features of the Fee-For-Service manual update, which also apply to managed care, include the following:

  • Inclusion of the home as a specific, allowable originating site
  • Adoption of e-consults CPT code 99451 for specialists
  • Expansion of store-and-forward reimbursement for all covered services, not just dermatology, dentistry and ophthalmology
  • Expansion of live video reimbursement for all covered servicesProvider manual updates and other materials can be found on DHCS’s telehealth page.

Provider manual updates and other materials can be found on DHCS’s telehealth page


Other States

North Carolina’s Governor vetoes Medicaid telehealth bill. Governor Cooper vetoed a bill that would have expanded coverage for live video and telephone visits in a feud with the state legislature over the budget. Read more here.

News Articles, Research & Reports

Drexel researchers to study live video talk therapy for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients. Drexel University-based researchers have developed Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) talk therapy and will be evaluating its use with CF patients via live video telehealth connections. A three-year pilot showed significant reductions in anxiety and depression and the use of telehealth will expand access to ACT care for CF patients, many who prefer to eliminate exposure risk associated with clinical visits. Read more here.

Planned Parenthood to expand app’s reach to all states by 2020. Planned Parenthood recently announced its homegrown app, which connects patients to birth control and UTI treatment, will be available in all 50 states by the end of 2020. This comes in the wake of Planned Parenthood pulling out of the Title X program after an abortion gage rule for providers took effect last month. Read more here.

Texas Medicaid managed care plan offers live video visits free of charge. Amerigroup of Texas announced this month it would be offering free live video visits through LiveHealth Online to all its members. Read more here.