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Missouri Mulls Looser Telemedicine Rules

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   January 30, 2018

A new bill would allow reimbursement for telehealth visits that meet the same standard of care as in-person visits.

The state of Missouri is considering new legislation that aims to remove barriers to practicing telemedicine in the state.

Telemedicine adoption has been inconsistent throughout the United States for several reasons, and chief of among them is how providers would get reimbursed for such services.

Although Medicare covers certain services performed at certain locations, state regulations vary for Medicaid payments. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, "no two states approach telehealth in the same way."

States differ in everything from how they define telehealth to which services they'll pay for. For example, some states will cover only certain services performed by certain types of specialists, while others reimburse for telehealth services similarly to the way they would reimburse for any other provider service.

The tide is moving toward a greater acceptance of telehealth on the state level. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, "more than 200 telehealth-related bills were introduced in the 2017 legislative session," but there's still a huge variance from state to state.

If Missouri's House Bill 1617 passes, Missouri would become among the more progressive states in terms of telemedicine laws, according to Mariea Snell, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, associate professor and coordinator of the doctor of nursing practice programs at Maryville University in Saint Louis, Missouri; a telehealth clinician at Maven Clinic; and president of the Missouri State Board of Nursing.

The bill, which was introduced early in the year by Rep. Jay Barnes (R), would repeal several statutes and add others relating to telehealth.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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