Florida’s New Telehealth Bill

April 29, 2019 saw the passing of a new (and long-awaited) telehealth bill by the Florida legislature, and, for the most part, the take-aways are positive.

Here are the highlights:

Taking effect July 1, 2019:

  • A definition which includes asynchronous methods of service delivery and puts no restrictions on provider type

     

  • When controlled substances are allowed to be prescribed via telehealth has been expanded to include patients receiving hospice treatment and for a resident of a nursing home. (These DO NOT supercede the Ryan Haight Act. Do not forget to review federal laws and medical board regulations before prescribing via telehealth.)
  • One of the best inclusions in the new statute is the creation of an out-of-state provider registration for telehealth. To practice telehealth in the state of Florida, a provider must register with the Department of Health or applicable licensing board, meet the listed requirements, and pay a fee. Also stated in this section is an exemption from even this registration requirement if it is either an emergency medical situation, or the out-of-state provider is only consulting on the case for a Florida provider who will be making all care decisions, such as diagnosis and treatment plans. It is important to note that up until now the only out of state provision for Florida telehealth practitioners was it’s inclusion in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact – it is not a member of any other cross-state compacts. There was another bill introduced recently calling for the state to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact but it was laid to rest with the inclusion of language in a broader healthcare bill that generally requires the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to analyse the language of the compact and relevant existent state laws and statutes and submit a report to the Governor by October 1, 2019 on whether the State should enter into the compact.

Unfortunately, there is one part of the bill that isn’t as positive. Effective January 1, 2020 is a minor update of their commercial payer laws (for PPOs and HMOs) that does not require parity in any way. It only clarifies:

  • Which telehealth services are covered
  • Reimbursement rates must be mutually agreed upon by both telehealth providers and insurance payers
  • Any area of contract that specifies that telehealth services are reimbursed differently than in-person services must be initialed by telehealth provider

One final take-away from the passing of this bill is the tremendous effort made over the past two years by the Florida telehealth community, especially the Florida Telehealth Advisory Council. If it were not for their persistent efforts throughout 2017 and 2018, the positive change effected in this bit of legislature would never be taking place. It goes to show that if you are passionate about telehealth you can make a difference at the legislative level. Get involved with your local advocacy or lobbying group and join the fight for telehealth!

 
To read the article from Foley & Lardner about this bill, click here.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.
To find out how SimpleVisit can help you offer telehealth to your patients today, click here.

 

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