Special Legislative Session Improves Access to Telehealth Services

Posted: August 24, 2020

Bill Requires Insurers to Cover Telehealth Services at Same Rate as Office Appointments

Improved access to health care for rural Tennesseans is one step closer following the passage of a bill requiring insurance companies to cover telehealth services at the same rate as in-person office visits.

The bill was passed after Governor Bill Lee called the General Assembly into a special session to address the telehealth bill as well as bills highlighting COVID-19 related liability and addressing recent protests.

The bill improves access to health care by making remote procedures financially viable for medical professionals and removes the barriers for health care providers who have previously been reluctant to offer telehealth services. The bill is expected to make telehealth services more available to patients.

Tennessee Broadband Executive Director Levoy Knowles calls the bill a big win for rural Tennessee.

“The benefits of broadband are limitless, but nowhere are those benefits more evident or more important than when we put broadband to use improving the lives of those we serve,” he says. “The Tennessee Broadband Association and its members have long supported increased access to telehealth, and this bill means better care for rural Tennessee.”

As the country continues to deal with a health pandemic, many lawmakers felt the legislation is more important now than ever as face-to-face doctor visits increase the risk of exposure. The bill passed with almost unanimous support.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, the state’s largest insurer, supports the bill and is in favor of increased telehealth services. Unless it is renewed, the requirement for insurers expires in April 2022.

Visit the Tennessee General Assembly website site to learn more about the bill.