Governor signs Becker bill to improve payment fairness for telemedicine services


OLYMPIA…A bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, that establishes a system for creating better payment parity for telemedicine services was signed by Gov. Inslee Tuesday.


Senate Bill 6399, which is another stone in Becker’s effort to pave the way for improved medical care through telemedicine, directs the Collaborative for the Advancement of Telemedicine to review payment practices and make recommendations for improved parity across providers.


SB 6399 also requires that the Collaborative’s recommendations include direction for establishing a three to five year payment parity pilot program. It must also work with the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to set up procedures for analyzing the information gained through the pilot program to ensure parity is being achieved and to see if there are any opportunities for savings.


“Making the payments for telemedicine services more consistent across the board is really important for encouraging different facilities to provide telemedicine as on option for patients,” said Becker.


“I’m especially hopeful that more mental health providers and those helping to fight the opioid crisis will join in the effort to bring better care to our communities through telemedicine. Access to care is a huge barrier for some people, including many in my district. My work in telemedicine has focused on one goal – making patients well. The more we do to make telemedicine more practical for everyone, the better off patients will be.”


In 2015, the Washington State Legislature established payment requirements and approved locations for telemedicine services. In 2016, the patient’s home was added as an approved site. Both were the result of bills sponsored by Sen. Becker.