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Telehealth Barriers Smoothed Under New Colorado Law

July 6, 2020, 7:49 PM

Colorado doctors will get paid for virtual patient visits without additional red tape from insurers as part of a law signed Monday.

The measure (S.B. 212), signed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), bars health plans from imposing specific requirements or limitations on the technologies used to deliver telehealth services as long as those technologies comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Telemedicine for behavioral health, physical therapy, and other medical treatment became critically important after the state went into a shelter-at-home order in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers said during a signing ceremony with the governor in Silverthorne, Colo.

“Telemedicine—what’s not to like?” Polis said. “It’s more convenient, it’s safer because you don’t have to put people at risk of contracting Covid by going out, and it saves money on health care.”

The bill also prohibits insurers from requiring a covered person to have a previously established relationship with a specific provider in order to receive necessary telehealth services. Health plans also can’t impose additional certification, location, or training requirements as a condition of reimbursement for telehealth services. The new law takes effect immediately.

“It’s a viable medium going forward, and we’re making sure it’s not disadvantaged versus other forms of interaction,” said Sen. Jack Tate (R), co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and with a 64-1 vote in the House. No witnesses testified in opposition to the bill in committee hearings. The Colorado Association of Health Plans testified in favor of it as did several other health care advocacy groups.

The measure was among several health-care policy bills from the 2020 session of the Colorado General Assembly.

Tax-Time Enrollment

Polis also signed a bill (H.B. 1236) designed to make it easier for people to enroll in Medicaid, the children’s health insurance plan, and the state’s health benefit exchange. Bill sponsor Rep. Susan Lontine (D) said the measure will allow for people to find out “at the moment they file their taxes what health care plan they are eligible for so they can get enrolled.”

Polis also signed a bill (S.B. 33) authorizing working adults with disabilities who are over 65 years of age to continue participating in the state’s existing Medicaid buy-in program. At the signing ceremony, legislators and health care advocates thanked Polis for earlier signing a bill (S.B. 215) providing funding for a reinsurance program the General Assembly approved last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Childers at achilders@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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