The Virtual Care Insider

The Golden State Does it Again

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Uzi Marte

Uzi Marte
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
October 29, 2019

Let’s face it. California has always made us a little jealous. The Golden State is home to pristine beaches, lush forests, harrowing deserts, and Academy Award Winner Leonardo DiCaprio. Now add to that a welcoming telemedicine regulatory environment? Consider our bags packed — and not only because Zipnosis is headquartered in an increasingly chilly Minnesota. 

On October 12th, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 1264 and AB 744 — two bills that vastly improve access to and reimbursement of telemedicine services. Let’s talk specifics: 

Yeah video is cool, but have you ever tried asynchronous care?

AB 1264 tackles a previously ambiguous aspect of California law that requires an “appropriate examination” prior to a provider furnishing a prescription. Many in our industry (including Zipnosis) interpreted this provision as an indirect video requirement for any telemedicine interaction between a doctor and a new patient. AB 1264 clarifies this section by noting that a synchronous modality is not required to meet the threshold of an appropriate examination. In fact, it explicitly legitimizes the use of asynchronous modalities as a means of evaluating a patient—provided the standard of care is met. 

What may seem like a small statutory change, ultimately acts as a substantial improvement in access to telemedicine services for Californians, and one that makes asynchronous care open to new patients in California.  

Reimbursement AND Coverage Parity? Well now you’re just showing off…

AB 744 is the headline-maker. And while at this point it seems apparent, the law establishes both coverage parity and reimbursement parity. This means that services that are otherwise covered when provided in-person are required to be covered when provided via telemedicine. Even more, the service must be reimbursed at the same rate as its equivalent in-person service.

Many states have joined the coverage parity club. But only a few states have joined the decidedly more exclusive reimbursement parity club. By enacting this legislation, CA further legitimizes telehealth services as on par with in-person care. Zipnosis is hopeful that this bill will greatly increase telemedicine utilization among patients and providers in California. 

So take a victory lap, California. You did it again.

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