Medical Telecommunication Could Help Rural Hospitals, Patients

Currently, Minnesota Statutes do not require health plan coverage for services provided through telecommunications. A bipartisan bill heard in the Commerce Committee this week (and a shadow bill also with bipartisan coauthors) would move Minnesota into the 21st century and require both private health insurers and MA to provide reimbursement for telehealth services. Telemedicine includes services that are provided in real-time and those that are completed at different times, such as the sending and review of x-ray scans. Health insurers and the state would then have to reimburse for these services as if they were provided to the patient in-person.

In addition to covering telemedicine services the same as traditional services, the insurers and the state would have to treat the two deliveries the same when determining payment rates. An insurer or the state cannot pay a provider a different rate simply because that service was provided over the phone instead of in person.  This bill enjoys broad bi-partisan support, and the concept has been in-the-works for many years. With our growing senior population and the increasing sparsity of physicians in certain areas of our state, the greater availability of telemedicine will ensure that these populations are getting the care they need without having to drive hundreds of miles to receive it. The bill was passed through the Commerce Committee and now heads to the Finance Committee. (S.F. 981/S.F. 1150)

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