As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, LAMMICO has received many questions similar to the following:
“A patient is presently located out of state; may I treat my patient by phone or video until they return back to my state? Did the federal government on March 17, 2020, do away with license requirements for telemedicine?”
The March 17, 2020, steps by the federal government involved payments for federal programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program) for the coverage of telehealth in order to move states towards increased use of telehealth. To promote the use of telehealth, states will have to revise their telemedicine requirements. Some states have already done so. Click here for a list of the states as of March 25, 2020.
However, the federal changes didn’t alter the state licensure requirement for physicians and other healthcare providers. A practitioner engaged in telemedicine across state lines should consult the State Board of the patient’s location (also called the originating site) to determine if there are particular telemedicine licensing requirements. Additionally, a practitioner should also review the physician’s state licensing laws and telemedicine requirements for updates and changes in light of the disaster declaration.
For example, the Mississippi Licensing Board has recently waived the telemedicine licensure requirements, but a physician from another state must still notify the Mississippi Board that he or she is treating a patient in Mississippi by telemedicine. The form is on the Mississippi Board’s website.
In Louisiana, the telemedicine requirements are exempt when furnishing medical assistance in the case of a declared emergency or disaster according to the telemedicine rules of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME). Moreover, by Proclamation 32-20 of Governor Edwards, Louisiana is facilitating the provision of telehealth services where available and appropriate and has provided guidelines.
Although, we would recommend contacting the LSBME for further guidance on telemedicine practice during a disaster if a practitioner does not have a Louisiana license.
On March 13, 2020, Arkansas Governor Hutchinson issued Executive Order 20-05, to amend Executive Order 20-03 to “fully leverage telehealth in Arkansas and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” by suspending certain requirements for the provision of telemedicine to Arkansas residents. In particular, the Executive Order suspended the requirement of an established provider-patient relationship prior to the telemedicine encounter. The intent is to allow Arkansas licensed physicians with access to the patient’s medical record to establish a professional relationship with the patient using any technology deemed appropriate by the provider, including telephone, to diagnose, treat and, if clinically appropriate, prescribe a non-controlled drug to the Arkansas patient. Physicians providing telemedicine services to patients in Arkansas are encouraged to consult with the Arkansas Medical Board for updates regarding licensure and other requirements during the declared COVID-19 disaster.
Two helpful articles on telemedicine and licensure as of March 19, 2020, are: