Pennsylvania’s 2.1 million citizens covered by state-administered Medicaid, including those in the most rural and remote areas, are about to begin enjoying access to the best medical specialists in the state. That’s because, on May 23, the state broadened its coverage to reimburse far more telemedicine consultations than it previously paid for.
The Keystone State’s use of telemedicine had been limited to specific specialist consultations. Its medical-assistance program, administered through the state welfare department, will now reimburse “additional specialty physicians who will be able to perform consultations and diagnose patients, recommend and monitor treatment and even order tests or prescribe medication,” according to a news release from the office of Gov. Tom Corbett.
The office added that, to increase utilization of real-time interactive technologies, the welfare department has discarded a rule requiring that telemedicine consultations only be performed with participation from referring physicians. It also said telemedicine visits are now reimbursable for “all physician specialists,” naming cardiologists, obstetricians and neurologists as examples.
“By fully embracing telemedicine, we will improve a person’s ability to receive care, especially for Pennsylvania's large rural population who can now receive diagnosis and treatment from distant medical centers,” said Corbett in prepared remarks.
Pennsylvania’s embrace of telehealth reflects a national boom. Earlier in May, tech-market forecaster WinterGreen Research released a report projecting the growth of telemedicine-dedicated devices and software markets from $736 million in 2011 to $2.5 billion by 2018.