This useful map, downloaded from the American Telemedicine Association’s Wikipedia site, serves as an interesting social barometer to gauge regional attitudes toward telemedicine. The progression of state legislation permitting private insurers to reimburse telemedicine is growing with Mississippi, Montana and New Mexico becoming the latest states to enact these laws this year.
While it has enjoyed much support in many rural states, particularly in the Midwest and western portions of the country, it’s still a mixed bag, as the map indicates. And the state legislation is a patchwork of interpretations as to what telemedicine should and shouldn’t cover.
The states with pending legislation are: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee.
Among the telemedicine legislation Illinois is reviewing is a bill that would permit reimbursement for occupational therapy delivered by telehealth. A House bill in Massachusetts has proposed a comprehensive mandate across Medicaid and private insurance, but a Senate bill would limit reimbursement to state employees and private plans. Another House bill would permit reimbursement for behavioral health services.
Some states, like Indiana, are just mandating Medicaid coverage. There, both chambers of the state legislature have passed a bill mandating that Medicaid would reimburse telemedicine for rural centers, federally qualified health centers for underserved populations, home health and community mental health centers.
Reimbursement by private insurers will make all the difference between telemedicine shifting from the margins of healthcare to mainstream acceptance.