Gratwick bill would require parity for telehealth services provided under MaineCare

Posted: May 10, 2017 | Senator Gratwick

AUGUSTA — A bill by Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, would require that services under MaineCare provided through telehealth be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person medical treatment.

The bill — LD 1485, “An Act Regarding MaineCare Coverage for Telehealth Services” — was the subject of a public hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

Telehealth is the use of audio-video conferencing and remote monitoring to deliver medical, health and educational services. Sen. Gratwick’s bill would ensure that any telehealth services be funded under MaineCare at the same rate as in-person services.

“Telehealth is now an established and effective form of health care delivery, saving lives for patients and time and money for providers,” said Sen. Gratwick. “We need to catch up with this technology and ensure that it is treated in the same manner as in-person care.”

Maine is one of the most rural states in the nation, with 11 of its 16 counties classified as such. The lack of transportation and primary care providers puts thousands of Mainers living in rural parts of the state at a disadvantage. Over 270 towns in Maine are designated as “medically underserved” areas.

Elise Magnuson of the Maine Psychological Association spoke in favor of the bill at the public hearing.

“We concur that health insurers should cover telehealth in the same manner as face to face clinical services,” said Magnuson. “Our members tell us that currently most of the insurers they deal with do cover telehealth services, but that some cover clinical services at a lower reimbursement rate.”

The bill received the support of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and is one of 3 bills Gratwick has introduced on telehealth to bring Maine up to date with best practices in the country.

LD 1485 faces further action in the Health and Human Services Committee and votes in the House and Senate.