This morning, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met to discuss a variety of policy issues, inclusive of telemedicine. Defined as “delivering health care at a distance,” telemedicine has proven to expedite access to health care for many patients. It’s especially helpful for people who are either homebound or reside in rural areas where health care providers are in short supply.

In efforts to expand telemedicine’s reach to more patients, lawmakers have requested for the state Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) to produce a report that assesses the telemedicine landscape in North Carolina and offer policy recommendations. That report was due on October 1, and its findings were presented this morning by Maggie Sauer, Director of the Office of Rural Health.

You can access the full report here.

One policy consideration that captured the attention of some committee members is whether North Carolina should pass a “telemedicine parity law” that forces private insurance companies to pay for telemedicine services. In the DHHS report, there is no definitive policy recommendation on this issue. In fact, the report specifically asks for the Department of Insurance (DOI) to weigh in with its own comments.

I would bet that private insurers aren’t going to endorse another law that mandates what types of services they must pay for in their health plans.

Instead of imposing more regulations to expand telemedicine, lawmakers should instead remove regulations that inhibit telemedicine’s growth. Click here, here, and here to read more about the progress that has already been made in this regard.