COVID-19 Health Care Working Group Support for Telehealth

In March, House Speaker Tim Moore formed a select COVID-19 committee with four working groups focused on healthcare, education, economic support, and continuity of state operations. Last week these working groups voted on draft legislation that will be filed when the session opens on Tuesday, April 28. The COVID-19 Health Care Working Group made the following policy and appropriation recommendations specific to telehealth.

  • Increased access and medicaid reimbursements for telehealth services to determine if individuals should be committed due to mental health or substance use disorder.
  • Health plans operating in North Carolina:
    • Cannot require prior authorization for telehealth services.
    • Cannot place limits on the originating site or the distant site for tor telehealth services
    • Should cover and reimburse for physical, occupational and speech therapy delivered through telehealth.
    • Should reimburse providers for a covered healthcare service delivered by telehealth at a level no less than the reimbursement for that service had it been provided in-person.
    • May require a deductible, a copayment, or coinsurance for a covered healthcare service delivered by telehealth by a preferred or contracted provider to a covered individual. The amount may not exceed the amount had the service been provided in-person.
  • $25 million to support rural and underserved communities especially hard hit by the COVID–19 pandemic, some of which may include enhanced telehealth services to address critical health care needs.
  • Grants to help hospitals offset expenses incurred for providing patient care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which may include costs associated with planning, training, and implementing expanded telehealth capabilities:
    • $75 million to the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation to award grants to rural hospitals
    • $25 million to the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) to establish the COVID-19 Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund
    • $25 million to OSBM to establish the COVID-19 General Hospital Relief Fund for large hospitals.