Telehealth expert: Illinois should add ‘teeth’ to parity law

Telehealth expert: Illinois should add ‘teeth’ to parity law

The state could do more to ensure that telehealth services are treated the same as other healthcare services, according to a telehealth expert.

Nina Antoniotti, executive director of telehealth and clinical outreach at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, is part of a Medicaid advisory committee looking at how to improve telehealth in the program.

Antoniotti said telehealth parity means insurers can’t charge patients more or make it more difficult for them to receive telehealth services than in-person care. It also means that payers can’t put in different standards or pay different rates to providers.

She said the state’s current policy doesn’t go far enough.

“Nothing in this law says that the health plan has to provide coverage,” she said. The law doesn’t “have any teeth. It doesn’t mandate anything,” she added.

She hopes that the advisory council seeks to expand the payment for services delivered by telehealth. Then all managed care organizations that have a contract to cover Medicaid recipients would have to comply with the expanded policies, she said.

“There’s always an opportunity to go back and amend this parity law so that it does have the ability to mandate that private health plans do pay for services delivered by telehealth,” she said.

Health News Illinois is a nonpartisan, independent news service covering the Illinois healthcare beat. Sign up for a free trial to the newsletter here.

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