One of WSHA’s top priorities in both policy and operations is advancing the use of telehealth services. As a result of last year’s legislation, a statewide Telehealth Collaborative has convened. Click here for more information about the Collaborative.
WSHA has successfully advocated for two new laws that will increase access to telehealth services:
SB 5175, passed in 2015 – Effective January 1, 2017
WSHA supported and worked this bill for three legislative sessions. Success is owed to a successful collaboration of lawmakers, WSHA, WSMA and insurers. The bill ensures payment for clinical services that are delivered to patients using real-time video and audio technology. Telehealth promises to improve access to health services and lead to improvements in medical care outcomes in a cost-effective way. The usefulness is obvious for rural communities, but the technology can help vulnerable patients and their caregivers in urban areas as well. The new law requires health plans to cover appropriate telehealth services, as long as the services would be covered in-person. The law does not establish payment rates, but it does create a better environment for providers and payers to negotiate arrangements for care provided through telehealth.
SB 6519, passed in 2016 – Effective January 1, 2018 for “home”
This bill establishes a telehealth collaborative housed at the UW to chart the future of telehealth and make regular reports to the legislature about telehealth. It also adds “home” as a site where patients can receive telehealth services for which their insurers will pay.
Reading the bills: Anything that starts with NEW SECTION is new language. Anything underlined is new language amended into existing statute. Anything struck out is old language that has been removed from the current statute. Because SB 6519 builds on SB 5175, much of SB 5175 is repeated.