Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124
04/29/2019 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 29-INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR TELEHEALTH 3:39:13 PM CO-CHAIR LEDOUX announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 29, "An Act relating to insurance coverage for benefits provided through telehealth; and providing for an effective date." 3:39:40 PM The committee took an at-ease from 3:39 to 3:41 p.m. 3:42:32 PM CO-CHAIR LEDOUX opened public testimony on HB 29. 3:42:46 PM CHRISTOPHER DIETRICH, Assistant Medical Director, Orion Behavioral Health Network, expressed his support for HB 29. He offered his belief that when patients who are covered by both private insurance and Medicaid, receive telehealth service that their private insurance denies, then the cost is shifted over to the state. He stated that this bill would help the state of Alaska save money and help patients receive better care. 3:44:10 PM CLAUDIA TUCKER, Government Affairs VP, Teladoc Health, offered support for HB 29. She said that HB 29 will mandate coverage without getting into the contractual relationship for reimbursement between providers and the health plan and does not require a prior in-person [appointment], which she said is good policy. She reported that Teladoc Health has 47 Alaska licensed physicians working in the state. 3:45:20 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL asked if the physicians working for Teladoc Health are physically located in Alaska. MS. TUCKER replied that they can be both in Alaska and out of state. She said that call volume for 2018 shows approximately 30 percent of calls were answered by physicians living in Alaska. She did note, however, that all Teladoc physicians are at least licensed in this state. 3:46:22 PM ROBIN MINARD, Chief Communications Officer, Matsu Health Foundation, voiced her support for HB 29. She stated that this bill addresses and solves both transportation and access to care for Alaskans. She offered her belief that currently, patients postpone preventive care, medication refills, and early intervention due to access, cost, weather, and lack of time, which ultimately increases overall healthcare costs when they end up in the emergency room (ER). She said that HB 29 will help to give quality care to more Alaskans. 3:49:21 PM LYNN FREEMAN, PhD, CEO, Mind Matters Research LLC, testified in support of HB 29, stating that it is critical for the wellbeing of patients in Alaska. She informed the committee that her research supports the notion that telehealth can offer the same quality of care as in-office appointments. She contended that in some cases, telehealth can even provide better outcomes. 3:51:34 PM WADE ERICKSON, MD, Capstone Family Medicine, stated his support for HB 29. He informed the committee that he has been doing telemedicine for six years as a family physician, noting that he uses it for both rural and local patients. He said that with proper use of telemedicine, he has seen a significant improvement in patient care, access to care, and a reduction in the use of both emergency room and urgent care services. 3:53:02 PM CO-CHAIR LEDOUX closed public testimony. 3:53:20 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL moved to report HB 29 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. Without objection, HB 29 was moved from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee. 3:53:45 PM The committee took an at-ease from 3:53 to 3:56 p.m.