Becker telemedicine payment parity bill signed by governor

Telemedicine services will be reimbursed at same rate as if service provided in-person

OLYMPIA…A bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia, that will provide reimbursements to telemedicine providers at the same rates as if the services had been provided in person has been signed by the governor and will become law.

Becker, who has championed the expansion of access to health care through telemedicine, sponsored Senate Bill 5385 to remove reimbursement rates as a barrier to that effort.

“Telemedicine is the future in health care,” said Becker. “It’s critical to those who live in rural areas because they don’t often have many providers, particularly specialists, within a short drive of home. They end up spending hours traveling to and from doctor’s appointments, which is not always practical or possible.

“It will also become critical to the elderly population and to those who are confined at home like many are now during our current public health crisis. Telemedicine could make a real difference in containing something as highly contagious as coronavirus.”

President Trump has voiced support for telemedicine during his COVID-19 updates, saying it can be an effective tool for managing and providing care during current restrictions due to the current public health crisis. Many health-care providers are using telemedicine to triage and screen patients, follow up with those who are sick and treat vulnerable populations for ongoing health issues that increase the risk of catching coronavirus if they go into health facilities.

“Whatever we can do to encourage doctors to provide telemedicine access, we should do now. People are recognizing what a critical tool it can be, particularly when dealing with infectious diseases. Providing payment parity is a logical step in that direction.”

SB 5385 becomes law on Jan. 1, 2021.