Florida Telemedicine Update

TelemedicineFiled last September by Florida Senator Aaron Bean, Senate Bill 280, which establishes the standard of care for telehealth and defines the scope of practice for the delivery of telehealth services, is winding its way through the 2018 Legislative session.

The bill has gone through the Banking and Insurance and the Health Policy committees, and as of last week, was being heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. A similar House bill has not yet been heard.

The telehealth bill was introduced just days before the 18-member Florida Telehealth Advisory Council issued its final recommendations on expanding the state’s use and accessibility of telehealth.

The recommendations define what constitutes telehealth, establishes payment and coverage conditions for payers and encourages asynchronous (store and forward) telehealth and remote patient monitoring under the state’s Medicaid program. The report also recommends that Florida lawmakers authorize the  approval of healthcare provider compacts with other states, as long as licensure requirements meet or exceed Florida’s.

Twenty-two states and the 29 Medical and Osteopathic boards in those states have adopted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) legislation, a voluntary, expedited means by which qualified physicians who wish to practice in other states can obtain licensure. Florida currently is not one of them.

A state legislature must pass a bill authorizing the state to join the compact. It must be signed by the governor and the language of the compact must be identical in each state. Senator Bean’s bill does not address the IMLC directly, so it’s unclear, as the bill moves through the state Legislature, whether Florida will join the other states in adopting the IMLC. Bean has said the legislation will evolve as it moves through the legislative process, so only time will tell what the final bill will look like.

Despite much lip service over the years, Florida has been slower than some other states to adopt laws regulating telemedicine, especially when it comes to practicing medicine across state lines.

The inability of physicians to practice across state lines has been a contentious issue. State-by-state practice standards and licensure requirements make it difficult. The IMLC facilitates the licensing of physicians across state lines.

As the healthcare environment relating to the use of telemedicine evolves, it’s imperative that providers are able to keep up with any changes that might impact their practice. The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can assist clients with these and other matters. Feel free to contact us for additional information at 305-358-4500 or send an email to info@vitalehealthlaw.com and let’s discuss how we might be able to assist you.

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