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MacDonald telemedicine bill approved by Senate committee

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael D. MacDonald’s legislation to continue coverage of telemedicine services was recently approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee.

“The use of telemedicine in health care has been increasing recently and providing many benefits for both patients and medical providers,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “The flexibility provided by these services has allowed people — especially those who are elderly, immunocompromised or with limited mobility — to receive the care they need. The measures that allowed for this type of health care are set to expire, and residents may lose their ability to use telemedicine for their care without this legislation.”

In general, telemedicine refers to the exchange of medical and health-related information from one site to another using electronic communication, such as through a video call.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency in March 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an order that expanded Medicaid coverage of telemedicine services to allow more flexibility related to telemedicine audio/visual requirements. This is set to expire.

Senate Bill 1135 would codify the telemedicine practices allowed by DHHS during the pandemic and require that Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Program include coverage for certain telemedicine services such as real-time audio-video and audio-only interactions.

Under the bill, Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan must not:
• Implement quantity, dollar amount, or service limitations more restrictive than those for in-person services.
• Reimburse providers for telemedicine services at a lower rate than comparable in-person services, except when reimbursing a provider that only renders telemedicine services.
• Impose specific requirements or limitations on the technology used to render telemedicine services other than requiring it be HIPAA compliant.
• Add certification, location, or training requirements on providers rendering telemedicine services as a condition for receiving reimbursement.

SB 1135 has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.