LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new bill before Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will change the way telemedicine is defined and reimbursed in the state, allowing the use of all types of electronic information and communication technology, even smartphones.
SB146, which amends Arkansas Act 887 and changes several stipulations in an original bill approved in 2015, was approved by the Senate last week and is on its way to Hutchinson’s desk. The new law creates the “Telemedicine Act,” which defines telemedicine as “the use of electronic information and communication technology to deliver health care services, including without limitation the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient.”
The new law allows an originating site to be wherever the patient happens to be at the time a professional relationship is established between a physician and patient, even the patient’s home. Under the current law, an originating site has to be a licensed health care facility.
The proposed law also states that telemedicine visits should be covered by health insurance “on the same basis as the health benefit plan provides coverage and reimbursement for health services provided in person.”