Connecticut’s Department of Social Services to Cover More Telehealth

Not only are potential telehealth-related policy changes coming
at the federal level (see the previous item about the proposed changes to Medicare’s
physician fee schedule), but states throughout the country are also continuing
to push telehealth to the front of the discussion as well. The latest example
(as the National Law Review first reported): Connecticut Governor Ned
Lamont signed “An Act
Expanding Medicaid Coverage of Telehealth Services
” (Public Act No. 19-76)
into law on June 29, 2019. This new law takes steps to strengthen and secure
telehealth coverage for Connecticut patients in need.

The Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) decides
what telehealth programs are covered by Medicaid. Before the new act, DSS
covered limited services, using only available federal and state resources. Under
current law, as the National Law Review notes, the telehealth service must meet the
following three categories to receive coverage: “(1) clinically
appropriate to be provided by telehealth, (2) cost effective for the state, and
(3) likely to expand access to medically necessary services for Medicaid
recipients who experience undue hardship in accessing health care services.”

Public Act No. 19-76 first does away with the federal and
state resources provision. DSS will now be required to provide coverage for
telehealth services, not just within available resources. Secondly, Public Act
No. 19-76 directly affects the third category by amending and expanding it to
instead say “where there is a clinical need for those services to be provided
by telehealth” instead of “for Medicaid recipients who experience undue
hardship in accessing health care services.” Finally, the Act accomplishes
something else, too, and goes one step further, in that it “permits DSS to
provide coverage for telehealth services, even in the face of contrary state
regulations.” In other words, as long as DSS provides notice of intent to
provide coverage, they can cover telehealth services not currently covered
until such policies are adopted as regulations. 

As we’ve seen in legislatures from Florida to New York
recently, states are actively adopting new polices to become more telehealth
friendly, with some expanding the list of practitioners who can provide
telehealth services and others altering their Medicaid regulations to cover
more telehealth services. Even Medicare, at the federal level, is proposing new
physician fee schedule changes to be rolled out next year. Is the law finally
catching up?

Click here to read the National Law Review article on Connecticut’s new telehealth law.


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Thanks !

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