Study: Vermont could tweak telehealth laws

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

A new national policy brief shows Vermont has made adjustments to telehealth laws to better serve patients.

The Reason Foundation released the policy brief “State policy agenda for telehealth” which focuses on all 50 states and what they can do legislatively to ensure patients receive top quality health care from their providers.

Josh Archambault, co-author of the policy brief, said that some states have only made minor tweaks to telehealth laws.

“Lawmakers must refocus their efforts to ensure their states have clear laws and guidelines in place so that patients and providers can benefit from today’s telehealth services and future innovations,” Archambault said in a statement.

The brief details how telehealth became a primary point of contact between patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic and how lawmakers are now presented with an opportunity to learn from the pandemic’s mistakes and wins while charting a new course for telehealth.

The foundation’s brief details how states displayed urgency in making updates to telehealth laws, which were enabled by emergency regulatory reforms at the state and federal levels.

The report focused on four key areas, including patient access, patients and providers being able to start a relationship in any mode, barriers in the form of state lines, and any type of provider being available through telehealth.

Vermont, according to the brief, could improve its modality, and does allow patients to start a relationship through telehealth, and does not provide any out-of-state barriers. The state also allows independent practices to operate through telehealth.

In Vermont, a pair of state line telehealth bills were enacted by Gov. Phil Scott. House Bill 654 granted an extension of an emergency provision that was altered to allow for the continuation of telehealth across states lines. As long as the provider was in good standing, according to the report, telehealth could continue.

Under Act 107, which expires at the end of July, a permanent process for 30 kinds of out-of-state providers could become licensed or registered in Vermont to see patients. However, the legislation limited the visits to no more than 20 unique patients in the state.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients discovered and utilized a variety of telehealth options that offered flexible, affordable, and high-quality care, and those options shouldn’t be taken away,” Vittorio Nastasi, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and co-author of the brief, said in a statement. “States need to improve their laws so patients have as many quality care options as possible and the future health care system can become more patient-centric.”

Categories: Legislation