At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state legislators chose to expand telehealth coverage provisions. These broader policies were intended to keep patients connected with their providers for routine care and provide treatment to those with milder illnesses while abiding by social distancing mandates. These legislative changes allowed physicians to treat patients in states they may not be licensed in and expanded their services through these remote appointments.
The new regulations were written to stay in effect for the duration of the state of emergency. After eighteen months of COVID-19 restrictions, states are starting to review the emergent legislation and repealing them if their state's COVID-19 infection rates are down. Laws regarding telehealth coverage vary by state, but one of the most common reversals we are seeing is license reciprocity for physicians practicing in other states. This means physicians are no longer allowed to offer telehealth services to patients across state lines unless they obtain a license in the state where the patient is located at the time of the visit.
For a more in-depth look at the telehealth coverage in your area, please review our guide below.
Telehealth Coverage in DC: COVID-19 Provisions are Inactive
During DC's Public health emergency, licensed healthcare providers could provide care to DC residents. This was allowed with the provision; the provider saw patients from a licensed DC healthcare facility and if the provider and patient had a pre-existing relationship. This waiver ended on July 25, 2021, when DC ended its state of emergency. There was a sixty-day grace period for the waiver following its termination that ended on September 25, 2021.
While the region has restricted its telehealth services again, in July 2021, DC Mayor Bowser released the COVID-19 Pandemic Health and Healthcare Pandemic Recovery Report ahead of DC's end of the public health emergency. This report advised the post-pandemic healthcare industry to continue to embrace the switch to telehealth services to serve the community better.
Telehealth Coverage in MD: COVID-19 Provisions are Inactive
During the state of emergency, MD allowed out-of-state providers with an active license in good standing in another state or DC to provide care to MD residents. However, these out-of-state waivers expired on August 15, 2021, per the Board of Physicians Guidance. If you wish to continue practicing telehealth in MD from another state, you must be licensed in MD. Please see the End of the Maryland State of Emergency- Frequently Asked Question if you have additional questions.
Even though telehealth coverage has been limited to physicians licensed in the state, the Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021 expands telehealth services. This act will require insurance providers to reimburse telehealth expenses, and it calls for a report on the impact of telehealth services by December 2022.
Telehealth Coverage for NY: COVID-19 Provisions are Inactive
During the state of emergency, physicians licensed and in good standing in any US state were allowed to practice medicine in NY without criminal or civil penalty related to the lack of NY licensure. They also approved telemental health services, required insurance companies to waive co-pays for telehealth services, and added audio-only telehealth services. These provisions became inactive when the state of emergency was rescinded on June 24, 2021.
However, until the federal public health emergency order expires, NY residents can continue to receive coverage for virtual care. Please see the Comprehensive Guidance Regarding Use of Telehealth Including Telephonic Services issued by the New York State Department of Health for additional information.
Telehealth Coverage for NC: COVID-19 Provisions are Active
Physicians licensed in other states, US territories, or DC or providers reinstated under emergency action may apply for an emergency license with the NC licensing board. If deemed eligible, providers will be allowed to provide telehealth services to NC residents. These provisions are active since NC Governor Cooper extended the state of emergency and signed executive order No 220 on June 11, 2021. These waivers will expire thirty days after the end of the COVID-19 crisis. Please refer to the NC Fact Sheet Telehealth Program for additional information.
Telehealth Coverage for SC: COVID-19 Provisions are Inactive
During the state of emergency, SC permitted physicians, physician assistants, and respiratory care practitioners licensed in other states to treat SC residents both in-person or through telehealth services. This provision expired on June 6, 2021, when the state of emergency ended. If you wish to practice telehealth for SC residents, you must be licensed by the state.
Telehealth Coverage for VA: COVID-19 Provisions are Inactive
VA allowed licensed out-of-state healthcare providers in good standing with their local jurisdictions to provide telehealth service to VA residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also eliminated the requirement that a healthcare worker accompanies patients during telehealth sessions. This allowed patients to be seen from their homes or other locations. This legislation ended on June 30, 2021, when Gov Northam allowed the state of emergency to expire. Any practitioner looking to provide telehealth services to VA residents must be licensed in the state.
Telehealth Coverage for WV: COVID-19 Provisions are Active
Out-of-state physicians can provide telehealth services to WV residents on the condition that they are licensed and in good standing with their state. For the duration of the emergency, WV allows physicians to establish a patient-provider relationship via audio-only communications so long as it satisfies the standard of care. In addition, as of May 20, 2021, licensed out-of-state providers may be registered to become "interstate telehealth practitioners". This legislation will remain in effect until the WV state of emergency expires.
If you have additional questions about your telehealth coverage, please contact your Professional Risk agent today.
Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB, September 15, 2021). US States and Territories Modifying Requirements for Telehealth in Response to COVID-19. PDF [Website]. Retrieved from: states-waiving-licensure-requirements-for-telehealth-in-response-to-covid-19.pdf (fsmb.org)