R.I. Senate passes bill requiring insurers to cover telemedicine

LEGISLATION THAT requires health insurers to permanently cover telemedicine will head to the R.I. House of Representatives after receiving Senate approval. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD

PROVIDENCE – Legislation that requires permanent coverage of telemedicine visits by health insurance companies has been approved by the R.I. Senate.

The measure, 2020-S 2525, sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, now heads to the state House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to write into law an executive order issued in March by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, who required insurers to cover telemedicine visits in an effort to provide access to health care for state residents while much of Rhode Island was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our experience with telemedicine during the pandemic shows that it is practical and useful to Rhode Islanders,” Miller said. “Offering it as an option permanently would improve our medical and mental health care delivery for both providers and patients.”

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The legislation includes provisions to:

  • Require telemedicine services be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person services.
  • Prohibit insurers from requiring cost sharing and prior authorization for telemedicine services.
  • Require that the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services applies for federal waivers in order to ensure that those covered by Medicaid are able to access telemedicine.
  • Authorize the R.I. Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner and EOHHS to distribute rules and regulations regarding telemedicine.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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