22 states altered telemedicine laws during COVID-19 pandemic

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Twenty-two states adjusted laws or policies during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase insurance coverage for telemedicine services, according to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund. 

For the June 23 report, the Commonwealth Fund analyzed state actions including new statutes, emergency orders and subregulatory guidance from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to March 15, 2021. The group also examined statutes that existed before March 2020 in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

The report found that states focused on three main areas to make changes in telemedicine policies: requiring coverage of audio-only services, waiving cost-sharing or requiring cost-sharing to be no higher than identical in-person services, and requiring reimbursement parity between telemedicine and in-person services. 

Of the 22 states that expanded access to telemedicine during the pandemic, most pursued making changes via administrative actions, according to the report. 

"If telemedicine proves to be a less costly way to deliver care, payers and consumers may benefit from expanding coverage of telemedicine after the pandemic," the report authors wrote.

 

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