Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday signed an executive order to make the loosened restrictions around telemedicine permanent.
The announcement comes as Idaho’s caseload of newly confirmed coronavirus continues to grow. As of Saturday, more than 3,500 Idahoans had tested positive for the virus, and on three straight days last week — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — new cases exceeded 100 each day.
Earlier this year, Little’s office announced that multiple regulations regarding health care via telecommunications and licensing of medical professionals would be waived due to the pandemic. The governor waived 125 other regulations last month in order to get health care workers, such as retired workers, relicensed to expedite the response to an increasing COVID-19 caseload.
Due to the restrictions being lifted, there were about 117,000 telehealth visits from March to May. By comparison, there were only 3,000 telehealth visits in the same time frame of 2019.
“Our loosening of health care rules since March helped to increase the use of telehealth services, made licensing easier, and strengthened the capacity of our health care workforce, all necessary to help our citizens during the global pandemic,” Little said. “We proved we could do it without compromising safety. Now it’s time to make those health care advances permanent moving forward.”
During a press conference, Little referenced the executive orders he signed when he first took office in January 2019.