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Report Charts Course To Expand Telehealth

Oct 18, 2017
Originally published on October 18, 2017 8:24 am

The state Telehealth Advisory Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a final report and legislative recommendations to remove barriers to the use of telehealth.

Council Chairman Justin Senior, secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration, thanked panel members for their work over the last year and warned them not to get discouraged if the Legislature doesn't turn the proposals into law.

“If it doesn't happen, we'll come back next year and try to do it again,” Senior says.

Among other things, the report recommends that lawmakers require Florida health insurance plans, excluding Medicare plans, to provide reimbursement “parity” for health services provided through telehealth or in person. The report includes a limit on the recommendation to make clear that the Legislature should “not require insurers to add additional service lines or specialties, mandate fee-for-service arrangements, inhibit value based payment programs, or limit healthcare insurers and practitioners from negotiating contractual coverage terms.”

The report also recommends that the Legislature authorize approval of health-care provider “compacts” with other states so long as licensure requirements meet or exceed Florida's requirements. States that are members of compacts have the authority and responsibility to regulate their providers.

Florida already has approved a nursing compact, but the recommendations would also allow compacts for physicians. The Telehealth Advisory Council was created by the Legislature in 2016 and is required to submit a report to the governor, House speaker and Senate president on increasing the use and accessibility of telehealth, which involves using the internet and other technology to provide health care remotely.

The council met for a year before finalizing the report.