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Gov. DeSantis signs legislation boosting telehealth options for providers, patients

Emails and audio-only calls won’t suffice for diagnosis.

The concept of telehealth is increasingly less exotic as time goes by, and a new law may render it commonplace.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 23, a bill that will increase access to and reimbursement opportunities for telehealth diagnoses.

Telehealth allows medical diagnoses to be performed remotely, via internet, or other such mode of long-distance transmission. Advocates say it is a boon for those in rural areas, remote from doctors, as well as those who are homebound.

There will be restrictions, such as audio-only phone calls and emails being insufficient for diagnoses.

The newly-signed legislation would allow insurance companies and HMO networks to cover out-of-state providers, a practice already in place in Washington D.C. and 39 states.

The bill also establishes criteria for out-of-state providers, including requiring that they not be subject to disciplinary action in their home states.

Furthermore, it does not allow telehealth providers to prescribe pain medicine for “non-malignant pain.”

The National Law Review noted that the bill could have gone farther.

“While the bill is a great step forward for providers of telehealth services on several fronts, it does not actually require health plans to cover services delivered via telehealth,” the Foley and Lardner affiliated website notes.

The authors expect further refinement of professional guidelines in light of the new legislation.

The process has been tortuous: the Florida Telehealth Advisory Council was formed in 2016. However, laws are gradually syncing up with current practice.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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