New Telehealth Parity Bill Seeks to Increase Telehealth Access

Telehealth and telemedicine solutions are changing the way that doctors are able to interact with patients. In recent years, the United States has seen a drastic decline in doctors; in the field of psychiatry alone, it’s estimated that America is lacking a staggering 25,000 psychiatrists to adequately serve the needs of patients across the company. One of the biggest advantages of telemedicine is that it provides accessible healthcare for those in underserved and underpopulated areas, where the lack of doctors is most detrimental.

While 22 U.S. states currently mandate that telemedicine reimbursement take place by insurance companies at the same going rate as in-person appointments, the red tape involved has made it difficult for everyone to access telehealth technologies. While the proper steps are being made to provide accessible telemedicine video conferencing healthcare to those in need, many in the healthcare field feel as if policy is lagging behind, and does not make it easy for either insurers or patients.

On July 7th, the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 bill was introduced to the U.S. House. This bill would provide payment parity for Medicare users, expanding their list of available telehealth solutions and services. This would mean that many of the barriers in place by outdated policies would mitigate, and more users would have access to more types of telemedicine services.

In a recent statement released by U.S. Congress’ California representative, Mike Thompson, the congressman laid out the ways that the parity bill would facilitate broader access to various types of telemedicine. The bill would, for example, remove any of the geographic barriers currently in place, effectively allowing underserved and metropolitan populations to receive broader telehealth access. The bill also aims to cover the kinds of care that current providers offering telehealth can offer, such as remote patient monitoring and home care for outpatient mental services.

With roughly 200 existing telehealth networks with 3,000 sites and counting, telehealth is on the rise in the United States. With a projected $1.6 billion growth within the next four years, telemental health has the capability to bring the United States one step closer to offering affordable and accessible healthcare to everyone who needs it.