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Lawmakers Seek to Mandate Payer Coverage for Telehealth Services

By July 20, 2021No Comments

By Eric Wicklund

– Two Congressmen have re-introduced a bill that would prompt payers to cover any telehealth service that’s also offered in-person.

The bill, unveiled last week by US Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), joins a steadily growing pool of proposed legislation aimed at establishing long-term connected health policy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

HR 4480 does not yet have attached language, nor have Phillips or Chabot issued a press release on the bill, but the description indicates it would “amend the Public Health Service Act to require group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage to provide coverage for services furnished via telehealth if such services would be covered if furnished in-person.”

The two lawmakers had proposed similar legislation in September 2020, but that bill failed to make it through committee.

It aims to create a level playing field for providers looking to embrace telehealth, while sidestepping the issue of whether those services should be covered at the same rate as in-person services. Several states have enacted some version of payment parity as a means of supporting telehealth adoption, while some states and several payers have argued that payers should be able to negotiate their own reimbursement rates with providers.