41.05.690  <<  41.05.700 >>   41.05.730

Reimbursement of health care services provided through telemedicine or store and forward technology.

(1) A health plan offered to employees, school employees, and their covered dependents under this chapter issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2017, shall reimburse a provider for a health care service provided to a covered person through telemedicine or store and forward technology if:
(a) The plan provides coverage of the health care service when provided in person by the provider;
(b) The health care service is medically necessary;
(c) The health care service is a service recognized as an essential health benefit under section 1302(b) of the federal patient protection and affordable care act in effect on January 1, 2015; and
(d) The health care service is determined to be safely and effectively provided through telemedicine or store and forward technology according to generally accepted health care practices and standards, and the technology used to provide the health care service meets the standards required by state and federal laws governing the privacy and security of protected health information.
(2)(a) If the service is provided through store and forward technology there must be an associated office visit between the covered person and the referring health care provider. Nothing in this section prohibits the use of telemedicine for the associated office visit.
(b) For purposes of this section, reimbursement of store and forward technology is available only for those covered services specified in the negotiated agreement between the health plan and health care provider.
(3) An originating site for a telemedicine health care service subject to subsection (1) of this section includes a:
(a) Hospital;
(b) Rural health clinic;
(c) Federally qualified health center;
(d) Physician's or other health care provider's office;
(e) Community mental health center;
(f) Skilled nursing facility;
(g) Home or any location determined by the individual receiving the service; or
(h) Renal dialysis center, except an independent renal dialysis center.
(4) Except for subsection (3)(g) of this section, any originating site under subsection (3) of this section may charge a facility fee for infrastructure and preparation of the patient. Reimbursement must be subject to a negotiated agreement between the originating site and the health plan. A distant site or any other site not identified in subsection (3) of this section may not charge a facility fee.
(5) The plan may not distinguish between originating sites that are rural and urban in providing the coverage required in subsection (1) of this section.
(6) The plan may subject coverage of a telemedicine or store and forward technology health service under subsection (1) of this section to all terms and conditions of the plan including, but not limited to, utilization review, prior authorization, deductible, copayment, or coinsurance requirements that are applicable to coverage of a comparable health care service provided in person.
(7) This section does not require the plan to reimburse:
(a) An originating site for professional fees;
(b) A provider for a health care service that is not a covered benefit under the plan; or
(c) An originating site or health care provider when the site or provider is not a contracted provider under the plan.
(8) For purposes of this section:
(a) "Distant site" means the site at which a physician or other licensed provider, delivering a professional service, is physically located at the time the service is provided through telemedicine;
(b) "Health care service" has the same meaning as in RCW 48.43.005;
(c) "Hospital" means a facility licensed under chapter 70.41, 71.12, or 72.23 RCW;
(d) "Originating site" means the physical location of a patient receiving health care services through telemedicine;
(e) "Provider" has the same meaning as in RCW 48.43.005;
(f) "Store and forward technology" means use of an asynchronous transmission of a covered person's medical information from an originating site to the health care provider at a distant site which results in medical diagnosis and management of the covered person, and does not include the use of audio-only telephone, facsimile, or email; and
(g) "Telemedicine" means the delivery of health care services through the use of interactive audio and video technology, permitting real-time communication between the patient at the originating site and the provider, for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation, or treatment. For purposes of this section only, "telemedicine" does not include the use of audio-only telephone, facsimile, or email.

NOTES:

Effective date2017 c 219: See note following RCW 48.43.735.
Effective dateIntent2016 c 68: See notes following RCW 48.43.735.
Effective date2015 c 23 §§ 2-4: "Sections 2 through 4 of this act take effect January 1, 2017." [ 2015 c 23 § 7.]
Adoption of sections2015 c 23 §§ 2-4: "The legislature encourages health plans to adopt the requirements of sections 2 through 4 of this act prior to January 1, 2017. Therefore, nothing in this act prohibits a plan from adopting the requirements of sections 2 through 4 of this act prior to January 1, 2017." [ 2015 c 23 § 8.]
Intent2015 c 23: "It is the intent of the legislature to recognize the application of telemedicine as a reimbursable service by which an individual receives medical services from a health care provider without in-person contact with the provider. It is also the intent of the legislature to reduce the compliance requirements on hospitals when granting privileges or associations to telemedicine physicians." [ 2015 c 23 § 1.]
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