May 18, 2021

Telehealth and Maryland Legislation: 2021 and Beyond

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Telehealth updates from our subsidiary Old Line Government Affairs:

More than just a tool for business meetings when distance is a factor, the ability to have a remote visit with a doctor has provided safe, timely and much-needed healthcare access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth isn’t just a buzzword, though–it’s become an essential way in which patients can receive critical healthcare, and a great supplement to normal primary care services.

The Old Line Government Affairs team advocated on behalf of their client Kaiser Permanente for House Bill 123/Senate Bill 3, the Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021, which was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on April 13, 2021.

This legislation requires private insurers, other carriers and Medicaid to reimburse providers for certain telehealth services, with particular focus on audio-only methods. In a notable addition, the Maryland Health Care Commission is required to research the impact of providing telehealth services and provide a report by December 1, 2022, with this legislation then slated to sunset in 2 years.

Given the changing dynamics of telehealth, the rapid increase of its usage and patients’ dependence on telemedicine during the pandemic, and the unique elements it presents in regards to the doctor-patient relationship, the legislation specifies the need for further examination. Research will provide analysis of the benefits, use cases and impact on both providers and patients.

This session’s legislation is just the beginning of the conversation, especially given the end date of the current legislation just 2 years away. Ongoing dialogue related to legislative and regulatory action is certain.

In response to COVID-19, telemedicine has provided more efficient access to care during an unprecedented worldwide event. As the needs of constituents change and new methods of communication take hold, Old Line Government Affairs will continue to have conversations with legislators and keep a close eye on the impacts of telehealth in the future.

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