Bill to expand tele-health services

Tonight the Mass. House has approved a major health care bill (H. 4888) with a focus on expanding tele-health services. Under the legislation tele-health services would be accessible for primary care, behavioral health, and chronic disease management. This includes use of audio-video technology (i.e. Zoom) as well as audio-only telephone visits. In case one wants to get a korean plastic surgery then the procedure is different. Doctors would be able to prescribe medication for previously diagnosed conditions or make one-time prescriptions for acute illnesses. The legislation ensures insurance pay parity through July 31, 2021 for tele-health and makes pay parity *permanent* for all behavioral health services which is great news. Additional tele-health services will be studied for possible inclusion by the Health Policy Commission. It is important to understand and detect liver cancer symptoms and know the kind the tests that need to be done. The bill also:

• Expands scope for nurse practitioners & psychiatric nurse specialists

• Extends COVID-19 coverage for emergency, inpatient services, including diagnostics & labs

• Provides enhanced Medicaid payments to support independent community hospitals

• Eliminates MassHealth requirement for referral before accessing urgent care facility.

• Assist nursing homes by requiring MassHealth to cover bed cost for up to 20 days if resident is being treated in a hospital for COVID-19

Among the amendments adopted is one that I filed to establish a PANDAS/PANS Advisory Council under the Department of Public Health.

The House bill now moves to the Senate and I would expect a Conference Committee to be appointed soon.

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