by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, the Fayetteville Observer published a piece written by Jordan Roberts of the John Locke Foundation and Josh Archambault from the Foundation for Government Accountability. The piece discussed the importance of telemedicine during this time and the need to reduce barriers to telemedicine. The authors write:
We need flexibility and leadership willing to embrace innovation. That’s why Gov. Roy Cooper should immediately increase access to out-of-state telehealth providers, and the General Assembly should hone their efforts to protect North Carolina patients and providers…
State law establishes [an] artificial barrier between patients and providers. For example, a coronavirus expert in another state would first need to obtain a North Carolina license to treat North Carolina patients via telemedicine. Gov. Cooper can provide immediate relief by waiving this requirement for out-of-state medical professionals in good standing.
The two make multiple recommendations for how to promote telemedicine:
First, unless medically necessary, the legislature should remove any requirement of face-to-face visits before telehealth can be offered. Second, let’s be sure we don’t inadvertently exclude future technological developments in virtual care. Third, reform should allow virtual visits by all providers, not just doctors. Fourth, we must pave a clear and clean pathway for across-state-line access without adding unnecessary bureaucracy or costs.
Finally, this doesn’t need to be complicated. Let’s avoid piling on insurance mandates for telehealth coverage or payment rates. Research has shown that certain services are better suited for telemedicine than others, and care can be delivered for less money. Unwise mandates open the door to more spending on services that may add little value to the patient.
Now, more than ever, the benefits of telemedicine are apparent. It is time to take action and free up this resource for the people of North Carolina.