Two Maryland licensing boards – the Board of Examiners of Psychologist and the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists – issued a pair of proposed rules setting forth practice standards for mental health services delivered via telehealth technologies. The Boards previously did not have specific practice standards or rules unique to telehealth. Once finalized, psychologists, counselors, and therapists using telehealth in their services should read and apply these new requirements to their operations and service models.
New Mexico lawmakers passed new legislation designed to close gaps in the state’s current telehealth insurance coverage law, provide coverage clarity to patients, and ensure payment parity to in-network health care providers. The Legislature passed, nearly unanimously (98-1), legislation ensuring that commercial health plans will cover medical services delivered in-person or via telemedicine. The bill now heads to the office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for signature. If signed into law, the bill should bring New Mexico to the forefront of telehealth coverage, benefitting patients and helping catalyze the growth of these technologies throughout the state.
In February, the Department of Justice (DOJ) successfully leveraged a new weapon to target pharmacies as it battles the nation’s opioid crisis. The new approach utilizes court-ordered temporary restraining orders (TROs) that result in an immediate suspension of a pharmacy’s ability to dispense controlled substances at the outset of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration revocation process. A TRO prevents the suspect pharmacies from dispensing any medications until the DEA and the DOJ proceed through the usual course of revoking the offending pharmacies’ DEA controlled substance registrations.
Ambulatory surgery center (ASC) development and ownership has made a comeback after a number of years of stagnation due to an oversupply of centers and poor income growth. However, with significant changes in payment methodology, whether under Medicare or commercial third party insurance, the industry has seen a shift in surgical procedures toward less expensive and more efficient settings, most especially ASCs. Moreover, hospitals and health systems have been receptive to partnerships with physician owners of existing centers who are seeking leverage with payers, the kind of leverage that only large providers can bring. Finally, Medicare and other payers now reimburse a larger number of complex procedures when performed in surgery centers, such as interventional cardiology, radiology, nephrology and vascular procedures.
Momentum and support continues to build for telehealth commercial coverage laws across the United States, designed to ensure that covered members of health insurance plans can enjoy the full scope of their medical benefits – whether in-person or virtually. Last summer, the Massachusetts Legislature considered a sweeping telehealth bill that would have instituted certain requirements for insurance coverage. (Read our critique of that bill here.) Although the 2018 legislative session ended before the proposed legislation was approved, Massachusetts legislators recently filed five new telehealth bills for consideration.