Telemedicine Alliance for Connected Care Letter to Governors

More than 230 organizations want state governors to maintain and expand government health licensing options for telehealth until the public health emergency is over, according to letter led by the Alliance for Connected Health Care, the ALS Association and the National Organization for Rare Diseases.

Nearly 30 states have lost the force of their emergency declarations in recent months, according to the Alliance. This has resulted in many people suddenly losing access to telemedicine services from out-of-state providers as state medical licensing exemptions expired with emergency announcements.

The letter says this can be especially difficult for people at high risk of COVID-19, those in need of specialized care, people with mobility disabilities, and those living in rural areas or areas with a lack of health services.

“Given the urgency of a time when more states are considering lifting the flexibilities introduced at the start of the pandemic, states must act now to ensure that patients have access to the care they need where they live and when they need it, without having to choose between the cancellation of a meeting or long-distance travel and the risk of potential infection with the COVID-19 virus during a personal visit, ”the letter says.

The letter was signed by a coalition of advocates for patients, hospitals and health systems, digital health companies and professional associations, including Amazon, American Health Information Management Association, Amwell, Epic, Mayo Clinic, One Medical and Providence.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government suspended rules requiring doctors to be licensed where a patient is located to bill Medicare and Medicaid for medical services. Nearly all states have followed suit by allowing out-of-state service providers to practice without a permanent license during the pandemic. Some states have completely eliminated intra-state licensing requirements, while others have allowed out-of-state suppliers to apply for temporary licenses.

But as these denials dry up, access to telehealth also disappears. This has prompted many people to advocate for permanent changes to state medical licenses that will allow providers to provide telemedicine services within the state. Telehealth could face long-term obstacles to its growth if governments do not relax their health licensing regulations.

“Moving forward, we urge state governors and legislatures to increase their engagement with healthcare professional contracts that ensure safe and accountable mutual recognition of healthcare professional licenses between states,” the letter said.

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