Last week, we blogged about a bill that would introduce regulations on North Carolina’s thriving telemedicine industry.
In the last few days, however, that bill was replaced with a committee substitute – with the new bill merely calling for DHHS to study and report on various recommendations for telemedicine.
The good news? No regulations will be introduced at this time.
The bad news? The recommendations called for in the study bill reveal an interest among legislators to enact even stricter regulations in the future than were first called for in the original bill.
Among the recommendations the bill calls for:
- practices from other states on how their insurance plans reimburse for telemedicine treatments, including the possible “reimbursement for health care delivered via telemedicine on the same terms as reimbursement for in-person care” – i.e. a reimbursement parity mandate, likely to drive up the cost of telemedicine care
- “recommendations for a plan to ensure that all North Carolina residents have sufficiently advanced Internet connectivity to receive health care via telemedicine” – i.e. providing rationale for state and local governments to become more involved in the provision of internet infrastructure and service
- “The best manner in which to incentivize investment in next-generation, future-proof broadband infrastructure and reduce barriers to deployment of that infrastructure” – i.e. creating more crony corporate welfare schemes
- “recommended State licensing standards, credentialing processes, and prescribing standards for telemedicine providers” – i.e. creating higher barriers to practice telemedicine in NC, restricting supply and driving up costs
Telemedicine has offered a convenient, innovative and lower-cost alternative for patients and providers in North Carolina for years now. It’s a shame that legislators can’t keep their hands off it.