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OPPA testifies on HB 546 – telehealth bill

On May 16, Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association President-elect, Victoria Kelly, MD, testified before the Ohio House Health Committee in support of House Bill (HB) 546. Introduced by Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), HB 546 would prohibit health benefit plans from treating telemedicine services differently from in-person health care services solely because they are provided as telemedicine services.

The OPPA strongly supports HB 546. As stated by Dr. Kelly in her testimony: 

“Telemedicine (including telepsychiatry) is a powerful tool that can connect people with mental health and addiction treatment services, to improve access to care and care coordination, and is being used to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending. It is especially helpful in connecting a psychiatrist with individuals who live in rural, underserved areas, or who find it difficult to be treated in person (due to time, cost or cultural barriers to seeking mental health care).  It is a way of further utilizing the expertise of a specialty that is in great demand, while providing safe medical care to fellow Ohioans.
Ensuring that telemedicine services are covered and reimbursed by payers in Ohio will go a long way in tackling the barriers to expanding access to physicians who can appropriately treat mental illness and addiction disorders, especially in rural and underserved areas. Now is the time to do the right thing . . ."

Provisions of the bill include:

  • Requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for telemedicine services on the same basis and to the same extent as in-person services.
  • Prohibits a health benefit plan from excluding telemedicine services from coverage solely because they are telemedicine services.
  • Prohibits a health benefit plan from (1) imposing a lifetime benefit maximum in relation to telemedicine services other than such a maximum imposed on all plan benefits and (2) requiring cost sharing for telemedicine services in an amount greater than that for comparable in-person services.
  • Applies to all health benefit plans issued, offered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2019.

The OPPA will continue to meet with and encourage members of the House Health Committee to stress the importance of reimbursement for telehealth services - especially in the case of telepsychiatry. OPPA members whose state Representative serves on the Health Committee are encouraged to communicate directly with them and ask for their vote of support.



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