WHA-Backed Telehealth Bill Gains Bipartisan Committee Approval

October 31, 2019

Legislation updating Wisconsin’s laws related to telehealth services gained key committee approval Oct. 30, with the Assembly Committee on Medicaid Reform and Oversight overwhelmingly approving the WHA-supported proposal on a unanimous 7-0 vote. Assembly Bill 410, with 65 bipartisan sponsors in both houses, may now move forward for a full Assembly floor vote. 

Telehealth is rapidly becoming a staple of the nation’s health care system. A study released earlier this week from Stanford Medicine’s Center for Digital Health and Rock Health found that 1 in 4 patients surveyed nationwide used some version of live telehealth in the last 12 months. Numerous studies, including Wisconsin’s own state employee health insurance program, have determined that creating access to care through telehealth is cost-neutral or results in cost savings.

The legislation is the culmination of three years of work by WHA’s Telemedicine Work Group, and includes the four recommendations regarding how the state’s Medicaid program should cover telehealth services: 

  • Reimburse telehealth the same as in-person care when the quality of the care provided is functionally equivalent.
  • Catch up to Medicare in the number of telehealth-related services that are covered. 
  • Cover in-home or community telehealth services.
  • Increase access to behavioral health via telehealth. 
“This bill is important in ensuring the state’s Medicaid statutes keep pace with this growing area of health care,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding in this press release. “It’s gratifying to see such broad bipartisan commitment for a proposal that can substantially increase access to our state’s high-quality care in a cost-effective way.”

Companion legislation in the State Senate, SB 380, received unanimous approval last week in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Both bills are now eligible for full floor votes in their respective legislative houses.

Contact WHA Director of Federal & State Affairs Jon Hoelter for more information. 

This story originally appeared in the October 31, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter