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Telemedicine and Treatment Centers: Again Excluded from Modern Health Care?

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at February 18, 2015

Telemedicine in Florida (and nationally) is finally getting the due attention it deserves. Last year, the Florida Legislature tried to pass a bill during its annual session (March thru May) to approve of the use of remote video conferencing to supplement or replace regular doctor visits, in whole or in part. While the bill failed for other reasons, many believe this year’s legislation (currently filed as Florida House Bill 545 (2015) and Florida Senate Bill 478 (2015)) has a good opportunity to pass. A copy of the current staff of the Senate Committee on Health Policy is attached.

Legislatures in six states have introduced legislation that will force private insurance to cover telemedicine services at the same level they cover in person medical care, the American Telemedicine Association recently said (www.americantelemed.org/docs/defaultsource/policy/2015atastatelegislationmatrixEF9F3AD41F02.pdf?sfvrsn=16).

Unfortunately, the legislation in Florida, as proposed, does not specifically authorize the use of telemedicine by entities licensed pursuant to Ch. 394 (Mental Health) or Ch. 397 (Substance Abuse Treatment).

As proposed in Florida, only “Telehealth Providers” may utilize and therefore bill for telehealth services. Those are classified as persons who provide “health care and related services using telehealth and who are licensed under chapter 457; chapter 458; chapter 459; chapter 460; chapter 461; chapter 463; chapter 464; chapter 465; chapter 466; chapter 467; part I, part III, part IV, part V, part X, 25 part XIII, or part XIV of chapter 468; chapter 478; chapter 480; 26 parts III and IV of chapter 483; chapter 484; chapter 486; 27 chapter 490; or chapter 491, or certified under part III of chapter 401.”

While clinicians and other qualified professionals which fall under a specified Ch. 397 may qualify, I question whether substance abuse treatment providers themselves will be allowed to use this technology.

In Florida, the “devil is in the details,” i.e., the rulemaking that will follow from the Florida Department of Health. However, we anticipate those rules to be substantially similar to what has been adopted in other states.

We anticipate, once rulemaking begins, that various stakeholders will get involved to ensure that substance abuse/mental health is allowed to utilize this important technology, specifically in the aftercare and post-discharge process.

For more recent information, see the article from the SunSentinel: “More will visit doctors by teleconference under proposed state law.” http://bit.ly/1MvQBZa

Read more here:
SB 478 (2015) – Telehealth – Staff Report 1
SB 478 (2015) – Telehealth
More will visit doctors by teleconference under proposed state law – Sun Sentinel

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