In-Home Telehealth Care for Patients on Medicaid: Coming Soon to a State Near You?

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In its spring 2018 update on state telehealth laws and reimbursement policies, the Center for Connected Health Policy reported a patient-friendly trend in telehealth and telemedicine delivery to home-bound patients.  Ten states have revised their policies to recognize a Medicaid patient’s home as an “originating site” – a policy change enacted to improve patients’ access to care.

The 10 states are Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

“Colorado has been really progressive in terms of recognizing the benefits and value of using telehealth, to maximize the resources we have,” said Rachel Dixon, telehealth director for Colorado Access/AccessCare.

“The majority of our state is categorized as rural, and geography and distance can pose significant barriers for anyone driving from home to a healthcare provider’s office, Ms. Dixon said.  In addition, she said, “Three fourths of the 64 counties in our state are categorized as healthcare-provider shortage areas. Telehealth has proved to be one of the most cost-effective ways to address them.”

Utah currently does not have many restrictions on telemedicine or telehealth delivery, said Krisann Bacon, special projects coordinator for Medicaid with the Utah Department of Health. “Our program is very open and flexible,” she said. “I think it’s the direction that most states are going in.

“The majority of our Medicare members live in more urban areas, although the geography of most of Utah is categorized as either rural or frontier,” Ms. Bacon said.

"The rates in which providers and patients are adopting telemedicine and telehealth care are low in our state,” she said, “and we are trying to understand why that is. Some providers have told me they’re dealing with as many as 30 different insurance plans, and I’ve heard from providers that it can be very confusing, because different payers may have restrictions that other payers don’t have.”

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About the Author

Jane Erikson joined the staff of the Arizona Telemedicine Program in April 2013. She was already familiar with the program, as she previously wrote about the program during her nearly 20 years of covering health care for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. Jane has lived in Arizona most of her life and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.