Telehealth Gains Traction with Medicaid, But States Vary Widely

Telehealth applications are rising across the U.S., but policies around them are varied at best. Despite the different state-by-state approaches to telehealth reimbursement through Medicaid, there are still a few common trends, according to a March 2016 report from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP).

First, reimbursement is rising overall, according to the report, State Telehealth Laws and Medicaid Program Policies: A Comprehensive Scan of the 50 States and District of Columbia. CCHP delves into the topic through this annual report with a close look at how states are handling telehealth reimbursement.

Another commonality is that live video Medicaid reimbursement continues to exceed reimbursement for store-and-forward and remote patient monitoring.

Overall, 47 states and Washington D.C. reimburse for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service, while Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Utah do not have written policies to this effect. There are nine states that reimburse for store and forward, and 16 that offer some form of reimbursement for remote patient monitoring (RPM).

But policies diverge by state, CCHP finds, citing the example of Washington, which now provides more reimbursement for store-and-forward telehealth applications than in prior years, while in Oklahoma, the state Medicaid program has ceased its reimbursement for store and forward.

“No two states are alike in how telehealth is defined and regulated,” CCHP writes. “While there are some similarities in language, perhaps indicating states may have utilized existing verbiage from other states, noticeable differences exist. These differences are to be expected, given that each state defines its Medicaid policy parameters, but it also creates a confusing environment for telehealth participants to navigate, particularly when a health system provides health care services in multiple states.

View the report and full findings by state.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker