Ohio Expands Availability Of Telehealth – Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences

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Ohio Expands Availability Of Telehealth

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers at
both the federal and state level have worked to expand the
availability of telehealth services. Since telehealth , in many
cases, is viewed to provide a convenient, accessible and safe
alternative to in-person visits with healthcare providers, it has
been considered an effective tool to maintain access to healthcare
services in light of the pandemic’s challenges. Consequently,
many pre-pandemic regulatory limitations to telehealth were
temporarily waived during the pandemic. Given this experience, and
the generally favorable responses to expanded telehealth
availability from patients and providers, many policymakers are now
working to make this temporary expansion permanent.

Consistent with this trend, last year the Ohio legislature
passed House Bill 122, which was signed into law by
Governor DeWine on December 22, 2021. HB 122 helps expand
telehealth availability through two primary mechanisms: (i)
requiring health plans to reimburse healthcare professionals for
providing covered telehealth services, and (ii) expanding the
classes of health care providers who are authorized to provide
telehealth services.

On the insurance side, HB 122 requires health plan issuers to
reimburse health care professionals for a telehealth service that
is covered under a patient’s health benefit plan. It also
prohibits a health benefit plan from imposing a cost-sharing
requirement for telehealth services that exceeds the cost-sharing
requirement for a comparable in-person visit. Ohio requires each
health benefit plan to provide coverage for telehealth services on
the same basis and to the same extent that the plan provides
coverage for the provision of in-person health care services.

On the provider side, HB 122 significantly expands the classes
of providers authorized to provide telehealth services and thus
considered “health care professionals” for purposes
health plan telehealth coverage. Previously, only physicians,
physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses were
considered “health care professionals” for purposes of
providing telehealth services. HB122 expands this classification to
include optometrists, pharmacists, phycologists, chemical
dependency counselors, dieticians and many others. This expansion
should have the effect of improving the coverage and availability
of telehealth services from these professionals. Dentists, however,
are notably absent from the list, which may limit the availability
of dental consults via telehealth.

HB122’s changes went into effect March 23, 2022, and should
have a positive impact on the availability of telehealth services
in Ohio.

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