Boston – State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) is supporting health care legislation that will provide Massachusetts residents with increased access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In a press release her office noted that House Bill 4888, An Act to promote resilience in our health care system, was engrossed by the House of Representatives on July 29 by a vote of 158-0, following two days of debate. The Senate previously passed its own version of the bill (Senate Bill 2796) on June 25.
Kane said the House bill requires both public and private insurers to treat telehealth services in the same manner as in-person doctor visits, with deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance requirements not allowed to exceed the in-person rate. She said these rate parity protections are needed as more residents turn to telehealth as a safer option to help minimize their exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Kane said House Bill 4888 will keep rate parity between in-network telehealth services and in-person services in place until July 31, 2021. The bill also establishes a temporary out-of-network rate for emergency services, and prohibits cost-sharing requirements for all emergency and inpatient services related to COVID-19 delivered by in-network and out-of-network providers during the same time period.
Kane filed and secured two amendments to H4888. Amendment #3, Increasing Access to Cancer Clinical Trials, would work to increase enrollment, retention, and minority participation in cancer clinical trials. It would also eliminate financial barriers to participation by informing trial subjects – as well as family, friends and chaperones who accompany them – of their eligibility to be reimbursed for travel expenses and other ancillary costs through government entities, study sponsors, public and private foundations, corporations and individuals.
Amendment #71, titled Rare Disease Advisory Council, would establish a rare disease advisory council in the Commonwealth, which would be a powerful tool in creating a comprehensive rare disease network and bolstering education and attention to the cumulative mass and prevalence of rare diseases. The mission of the Council would be to advise the Governor, General Court, and Department of Public Health on the incidence and status of rare disease in Massachusetts.
House Bill 4888 also provides permanent rate parity protections for individuals receiving behavioral health services. These services include the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with mental health or substance use disorders.