Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) announced, on July 27, 2016, the appointments of 13 representatives to the newly-created Florida Telehealth Advisory Council. The Telehealth Council was created through HB 7087, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in March, largely as a fact-gathering step as the Legislature continues to consider a telehealth commercial insurance coverage and payment parity law. With a focus on telehealth insurance coverage (rather than practice standards), the legislation involves not only AHCA, but also the Office of Insurance Regulation (the agency with oversight over commercial health plans) in the process.
According to the language of HB 7087 itself, the purpose of the Telehealth Council is to conduct a research survey and generate a report with recommendations on five specific areas:
The research survey must be completed by December 31, 2016. The Telehealth Council’s report and recommendations are due to the Legislature and the Governor by October 31, 2017.
The Telehealth Council members are an impressive collection of professionals dedicated to telehealth in Florida, and deliberately represent different aspects of Florida’s health care industry. Nine members were appointed by AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek and four were appointed by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip. In addition to Secretary Dudek and Surgeon General Philip, the other Telehealth Council members are:
Organization Representing Facilities (Hospitals)
Organization Representing Facilities (Other)
Entity that Creates or Sells Telehealth Products
Organization that Represents Telehealth Stakeholders
Health Insurer that Covers Telehealth Services
Long-Term Care Provider
Health Care Practitioner
Organization that Represents Health Care Practitioners
“Telehealth is an exciting, emerging area of medicine that will allow us to use new communication technology to improve access to care and bolster data about patient monitoring all over the world,” said Surgeon General Philip. “As we move forward with the opportunities and advancements in this field, I am honored to commend, along with the Agency for Health Care Administration, the 13 newly appointed members of our Telehealth Advisory Council who will guide telehealth services in our state.”
The Florida telehealth community looks forward to seeing the Telehealth Council’s work develop and flourish, as Florida is in the minority of states without a telehealth commercial insurance coverage or payment parity law. Currently, 31 states plus the District of Columbia have telehealth commercial insurance laws requiring commercial health insurance companies cover services provided via telehealth to the same extent those services are covered if provided in-person. Continued expansion in coverage and reimbursement means providers can enhance telehealth offerings, both for the immediate cost savings and growing opportunities for revenue generation, to say nothing of patient quality and satisfaction. Commercial insurance reimbursement is among the five telemedicine trends driving health care transformation in 2016 and beyond.
How to Contact the Telehealth Council
Anyone may submit information or comments to the Telehealth Council for consideration. Comments, suggestions, and documents that organizations or individuals would like for the Telehealth Council to consider can be submitted electronically through on-line comment form, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Telehealth Advisory Council, 2727 Mahan Drive, MS #16, Tallahassee, FL 32308. Meetings of the Telehealth Advisory Council are open to the public and are noticed in the Florida Administrative Weekly.
For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, and other health innovations, including the team, publications, and other materials, visit Foley’s Telemedicine Practice.