Telehealth Moves in Both MN House & Senate

Dave Renner, CAE, our legislative rep, shares about Minnesota’s continued bipartisan support for telehealth (including telephone services) and recent movement in the House and Senate.

House Bill (HF 1412)

The House bill, HF 1412, was heard in the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee on March 8, 2021. Representative Kelly Morrison, MD (DFL-Deep Haven), informed the committee how critical telehealth has been during the pandemic and how patients have embraced the convenience of telehealth.

Testifying in strong support of the bill for the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP), Dave Renner, CAE, MMA Director of Advocacy and MAFP’s lobbyist, made it clear that telehealth is not a replacement for in-person care, but another way of delivering quality care. “One thing COVID-19 has shown us is the value of the expanded use of telehealth, which has been critical for patients to receive the care that they desperately need,” Renner said.

While no group is actively opposing the telehealth bill, the health plans and business community continue to oppose language that requires reimbursement for telehealth services to be the same as if the care were delivered in-person. This language is critical to ensure that insurers do not use this bill to artificially reduce payments that they currently make. Renner pointed out that much of the savings and efficiencies of telehealth fall mostly with the patient, not the physician. “The costs of care provided via telehealth is the same as in-person care—the professional fee is the same; the staffing and scheduling costs are the same; electronic health record costs are the same,” said Renner.

Following the hearing, the bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus health and human services budget bill that will be drafted within the next two weeks.

Senate Bill (SF 1160)

On March 9, 2021, the Minnesota Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee heard the Senate version of the bill. Senator Julia Rosen (R-Fairmont) presented the provisions that dealt with mental health case management services provided via telehealth.

The MMA and MAFP submitted written testimony in support of the bill.

The committee passed it unanimously and referred it to its last stop, the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

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