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The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and total costs of care.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
April 2, 2020
State Health Policy Leadership Telehealth COVID-19
Back to News and Updates
By Rachel Block
Telehealth can help bolster the front lines of primary care and mental health delivery in these challenging times. As the health care system focuses on the most immediate critical needs of patients with COVID-19, it is likely to be quicker, easier, and safer to access care via telehealth from home than to make an office visit. However, there is only a patchwork of policies in place that determine whether and how telehealth services will be covered by insurance.
Historically payers have covered these services in different ways and so health plans have different policies regarding telehealth coverage and payment. Right now, we need a consistent approach so 1) all consumers benefit from this critical service alternative, and 2) providers get reimbursed just as though they were seeing patients in their offices.
Fortunately, new federal policies are quickly addressing this need. For example:
State policy can make sure that health plans have robust and consistent policies that will make telemedicine successful. And states, as the regulator of health plans, can make a big difference when it comes to the effective implementation of telemedicine. State insurance and Medicaid agencies can provide immediate guidance or requirements to health plans to facilitate telehealth within this framework:
The state policy landscape is changing very rapidly; Washington State and Rhode Island are two states that have released emergency policies. You can learn more about Washington State’s telehealth efforts in a new Q&A with Sue Birch, RN, director of the Health Care Authority, and Christopher Chen, MD, medical director for the Medicaid program.
Apr 2, 2020
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An endowed operating foundation that engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration, and communication, with an emphasis on state health policy.