3/24/2020 – Telehealth, Licensure/Practice Across State Lines & Liability (Good Samaritan Health Professional Act (S. 1350/H.R. 6283)
Amid COVID-19 concerns, it is far from business as usual in most state capitols, with executive and legislative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic evolving rapidly. At this time, all states have taken some type of executive level action to encourage social distancing, such as closing schools, placing limits on public gatherings, or voluntary or mandatory closure of nonessential business. Many legislatures have temporarily suspended their legislative sessions to comply with limits on public gatherings, while others are rushing to finish essential business, like budgets and urgent COVID-19 bills, as quickly as possible. Many of the same concerns and requests for governmental action communicated by ACC, AMA, and others at the federal level are also being shared by many different stakeholders with state policymakers. These requests include additional action to address shortages of PPE and essential equipment to care for patients, reducing barriers to telehealth, and economic support for practices and institutions to preserve the healthcare system, patient access, and jobs.
Federal action has significantly expanded access to telehealth for Medicare and Medicaid patients, but state barriers related to coverage, modality, payment, and licensure also must be addressed. ACC has called for more aggressive action at the federal level on such issues as allowing voice-only and easing rules around interstate care, but some states have already taken significant action of their own. The Center for Connected Health Policy is tracking COVID-19 related state actions specific to telehealth, in particular those related to coverage and payment.
Licensure and Practice Across State Lines
The Federation of State Medical Boards is tracking states waiving licensure requirements and renewals. However, some state licensure waivers may be limited to volunteer services and may not cover general telehealth services.
At the federal level, ACC supports the Good Samaritan Health Professional Act (S. 1350/H.R. 6283), which would apply limited civil liability protections to volunteer clinicians during a federally declared disaster.