Western states working together on telehealth services

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Published Wednesday, August 19, 2020
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - A group of governors from western states are "working together" to identify the best telehealth practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a joint statement announcing the "coordinated and principle-driven approach" to telehealth this month.

"Our states have significant individual and collective experience with telehealth," the governors said. "To ensure that the nation benefits from our knowledge as changes to federal regulations are contemplated, to support continued application and availability of telehealth in our states, and to ensure that we address the inequities faced in particular by tribal communities and communities of color, we are announcing that Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together to identify best practices that support telehealth services for residents of our states."

The governors cited seven principles to their state telehealth policies, including: access, confidentiality, equity, standard of care, stewardship, patient choice, and payment/reimbursement.

The groups said its standard of care principle "should apply to all services and information provided via telehealth, including quality, utilization, cost, medical necessity and clinical appropriateness." 

For stewardship, the governors said their states "will require the use of evidence-based strategies for the delivery of quality care, and will take steps to mitigate and address fraud, waste, discriminatory barriers and abuse."

The four states, along with California, in April created a regional working group focused on gradually reopening the economy.

In Colorado, lawmakers passed a bill to extend telehealth access beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, which was signed into law in July.

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