Evolving State Regulations Limit Practice of Telehealth

Telehealth, which saw increased use during the pandemic and continues to surge in popularity, has been praised for its convenience and simplicity. However, due to evolving telehealth regulations, it’s growing more complex for both patients and physicians.

During the height of the pandemic, many states – along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – waived rules that required physicians to hold a license in the state where their patients were located. Now, those allowances are being revoked. As reported in U.S. News & World Report, some states that granted flexibility in telehealth delivery across state lines are tightening provisions and returning to prior licensing requirements.

These evolving telehealth regulations threaten to disrupt care. For example, says U.S. News, changing emergency orders mean that over 1,000 of Dr. Brian Hasselfeld’s patients can no longer attend telehealth appointments. They’re in Virginia, and he’s at Johns Hopkins – which is located in Maryland. Instances like these bring to light a bigger issue: While state regulations that govern licensing promote patient safety, they also create red tape that can be a barrier to care.

Regulation of telehealth in New York and border states

New York State recently amended sections of Public Health Law related to telehealth. Most notably, the updated telehealth regulations

  • restrict the definition of “distant site” to require a provider to be located within the United States or its territories, as opposed to the prior open-ended definition; and
  • broaden the definition of “originating site” by eliminating an expansive list of locations which previously included a patient’s New York residence or temporary locations outside of the state of New York.

See our recent MLMIC Insider post – “Update on Status of New York and Border State Regulation of Telehealth” – for additional details.

MLMIC policyholders are also encouraged to review the Fager, Amsler, Keller & Schoppmann, LLP (FAKS) summary of the changes and the status of New York and its bordering states’ telehealth regulation. MLMIC cautions that failure to adhere to the Public Health Law can result in significant fines.

Please reach out to a specialist at MLMIC with any questions regarding the law or its applications. If you require immediate assistance with a legal issue, contact our LEGAL 24/7 hotline at (855) FAKS-LAW or hotline@FAKSLAW.com.