New RI law requires health plans to cover telemedicine services

Legislators in Rhode Island passed the Telemedicine Coverage Act, which requires commercial health insurers to cover telemedicine services to the same extent that services are covered via in-person care.

Rhode Island is the 31st state to enact a telemedicine commercial reimbursement statute. The law will go into effect in January 2018.

The law incorporates a broad definition of telemedicine, covering "store-and-forward" services.

Many states only reimburse for live feed telehealth services, meaning "store-and-forward" services are largely excluded.

Unlike several states' laws regarding telemedicine, the Rhode Island statute does not contain any regulations about payment parity. Health plans are not required to pay providers at the same reimbursement rate for identical telemedicine-based or in-person services by law, according to the legislation.

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