SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts doctors and health care associations are looking to make telehealth a more permanent option for patients.
Telehealth has become an essential part of primary care practice since the start of the pandemic. This service helps patients who are in too much pain to visit a provider’s office in person or
travel to the office due to other health challenges.
Massachusetts mandated the coverage of telehealth services and a payment parity between telehealth and in-person services. It has grown substantially over the last few years, accounting for two-thirds of all care in outpatient settings in April of 2020. In addition, 65.6 percent of mental health visits were conducted via telehealth.
As we move away from the pandemic, telehealth has still remained an important element of the health care delivery system. State lawmakers are pushing bills that would require insurance reimbursement parity for all telehealth services, which goes beyond a 2020 law that ensured parity for virtual behavioral health visits and puts an end to the payment parity mandate.
E-consults, patient monitoring and interpreter services would be covered under these proposals.
Patients with limited technology and digital literacy could also expect help from their insurers,
as they navigate the telehealth landscape.
If these proposals aren’t passed in the state legislature, it would make it difficult for practices to use telemedicine in general because of the uncertainty about payment for the services. At this time, the fate of these proposal is unclear but health experts believe that it is crucial for Massachusetts to have a long term infrastructure to sustain and continue to grow virtual care.