Arizona Telehealth: Breaking Down Blocks to Healthcare
During the pandemic, states across the country loosened restrictions on the telehealth industry in order to ensure their residents would still have access to critical medical care despite COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-15, which required payment parity for telehealth services, expanded the limits of telehealth to include audio-only encounters, eliminated in-person requirements for drug prescriptions, and approved the use of store-and-forward technologies.
To meet the heightened demand for medical professionals caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Ducey also signed Executive Order 2020-29, which permitted professionals licensed in other states to practice medicine, including telehealth, in Arizona. In light of the efficacy of telehealth, Gov. Ducey came out in support of making pandemic telehealth expansions permanent in his 2021 State of the State address. The Governor’s priority is reflected in H.B. 2454. The legislation passed the House in February and is currently progressing through the Senate.
H.B. 2454 establishes permanent telehealth standards to improve patient access to care, and allows providers to continue practicing telehealth beyond the current public health emergency. The bill also includes a universal licensing provision which authorizes providers licensed in any other state to provide telehealth in Arizona. As opposed to a license reciprocity law, which recognizes out-of-state licenses from states which accept Arizona licenses in return, H.B. 2454 unilaterally recognizes licenses from other states.
By permanently loosening restrictions around telehealth and licensure, Arizona will enable the healthcare industry to effectively meet the needs of its residents and unleash the spirit of innovation in health care providers. More states should follow Arizona’s lead and eliminate telehealth restrictions and revisit their licensing provisions in order to improve access to care.