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Ohio bill would increase access, permanence of telehealth services

Published By Mahoning Matters on September 30, 2020
Mark Fraizer In The News

COLUMBUS — If a bill gets through the Ohio Senate, at least one part of the new normal might become more accessible and more permanent.

House Bill 679 recently passed the House and waits in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee. It would expand access and make certain telehealth services permanent.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and advances in technology, Ohio’s health care community has seen huge growth in telehealth services. Across the nation, other state legislatures have taken up similar bills, according to bill sponsor state Rep. Mark Frazier, R-Newark.

“In Ohio, the growth in telemedicine has been astronomical, and it is essential to appropriately regulate this service to encourage its adoption, utilization and expansion,” Frazier said in testimony. “We also want to ensure the most vulnerable of our population are protected to ensure they receive appropriate accommodations for health services.”

Groups like The Buckeye Institute, a policy think tank based in Columbus, agree, releasing a report supporting the idea, Access to Health Care Made Easier: Promoting Best Practices in Ohio’s Telehealth Policy.

James Woodward, an economic research analyst with the Economic Center at The Buckeye Institute, highlighted three areas that would maximize telehealth’s advantages and offered minor suggested changes to HB 679.

First, cost-sharing requirements need to remain so insurers and care providers can negotiate. Second, limits on telehealth services for certain treatments, conditions or providers should be avoided. And, finally, the state’s medical board should develop language that holds providers to the same standards as in-person care.“State policymakers should encourage expanded telehealth use and innovation,” Woodward said. “There is now widespread agreement among patients, care providers and lawmakers that telehealth offers patients safe, effective and efficient options in health care, and the time has come to adjust the rules that govern it.”

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