Saturday, June 8, 2013

Arizona insurers must pay for telemedicine

Senior Reporter-Phoenix Business JournalJun 4, 2013, 6:00am MST

Gov. Jan Brewer has signed the Telemedicine Reimbursement Parity Act into law, requiring telemed services in rural areas of Arizona to be covered by health insurance.
Beginning in 2015, insurers must cover services provided through the telemedicine service programs if the insurers pay for those same services when they are provided in a traditional clinic or hospital setting.
The Arizona Legislature established the Arizona Telemedicine Program in 1996, which now links 70 Arizona communities at 160 sites, said Dr. Ronald Weinstein, co-founder and director of the program.
“Our telemedicine program is a critical link to health care,” he added. “We primarily are devoted to improving access to specialized medical care throughout the state of Arizona.”
The new law defines telemedicine services as the delivery of health care, diagnosis, consultation and treatment, and the transfer of medical data through interactive audio, video or data communications that occur in the physical presence of the patient.
Kathi Beranek, manager of government relations and public policy for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, said BCBS worked closely with advocates on the terms of the bill.
“Looking toward 2015, the bill will allow more people, especially in rural communities, access to better care combined with potential cost savings,” she said.

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