At the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, an executive order issued by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz temporarily amended state law governing telehealth services. Under the order, insurers must cover telephone services and patients are eligible to receive telehealth services in their home.
Earlier this year, coverage for telehealth services was passed by the Minnesota Legislature and all but the coverage from home was extended to June 30, 2021. For the site of service changes, they were scheduled to sunset on February 1, 2021.
During the one-day special session on December 14, 2020, the seventh special session this year, the Legislature passed an omnibus bill (HF 19) by large bipartisan majorities that extends coverage for telehealth services from a patient’s home to June 30, 2021.
While this extension is still time-limited, it gives the Minnesota Legislature time to consider a permanent extension.
A top legislative priority for 2021 (for the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians) is to permanently extend coverage that allows services to be provided in a patient’s home, to require coverage for telephone visits when appropriate and to remove any requirements that an initial visit must be in-person. While telehealth and telephone services will not replace in-person visits, they can allow for high-quality, efficient, patient-centered care (when deemed appropriate).
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Author:Dave Renner, CAE, legislative rep, @daverenner