Thursday, March 9, 2017

Two telehealth bills introduced in Kansas House

Two pieces of telehealth legislation were introduced to the Kansas House of Representatives in February, House Bill 2206 and House Bill 2254.

HB 2206 was a parity bill that would have required individual and group health insurance policies, along with KanCare (Medicaid), to provide coverage and payment for telehealth services at the same rate as services provided in-person. It also would have prevented applying additional costs for telehealth services, such as deductibles or copayments, that would not be included for standard in-person care. Similar to telehealth policy in 32 other states, the bill would have addressed denying eligibility, imposing maximum coverage exclusive to telehealth, or dropping coverage for a service exclusively because it is provided through telemedicine.

A public hearing was held on February 16th to a standing room only Health and Human Services Committee room with 16 proponent/neutral testimonies for stakeholders across the state, including KU Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth (KUCTT). Only two opposing testimonies were given from the insurance industry, focused on the bill’s scope.  In addition, HB 2254 focused on definitions related to telehealth encounters. The bills did not make it out of committee, but the chair announced that the committee will convene this summer to discuss and seek further information about telehealth.

State leaders Representative Jim Kelly (11th District) and Representative Tom Sloan (45th District) collaborated with stakeholders in writing and introducing HB2206.  Although the bills are dead for this session, telehealth champions are encouraged by the grassroots advocacy sharing patient and community stories around the need for telehealth. This buzz has opened new opportunities around education about technology and healthcare. Kansas Representative Tom Sloan reports, “This is a step forward in what has been a five year journey to date.  Advocates of telehealth/telemedicine reimbursement must become much more vocal in advocating with legislators if we are to be successful.”

For further information about telehealth educational efforts, please contact KUCTT Project Director Janine Gracy at (913) 588-2352.

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