JUNEAU – The expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has improved Alaskans’ health care access, and legislation introduced last month by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz seeks to build off these improvements with comprehensive telehealth access post-pandemic.
“The dramatic expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic made it easier and less expensive for Alaskans to get the health care they needed, especially for those in rural Alaska and others in need of specialty care,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D – Anchorage). “HB 265 seeks to make permanent those pandemic-related changes which made it easier for Alaskans to get the care they needed at a price that is right – cutting red tape, removing the need for unnecessary travel, and creating more flexibility around how that health care is delivered.”
HB 265 would strengthen telehealth delivery in the state by empowering all health care providers licensed with the State of Alaska with the option to deliver telehealth services within the scope of their practice without an in-person visit.
HB 265 has received support from Southcentral Foundation, Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities, Alaska Behavioral Health Association, AARP, and the Alaska Primary Care Association.
“The pandemic has underscored the importance of care delivery through telehealth. We have seen tremendous success in telehealth care delivery including behavioral health treatment using this convenient and consistent system. Maximizing access by permanently offering telehealth services throughout Alaska will undoubtedly lead to better health care outcomes in rural communities. I am hopeful that the legislature will act quickly on this legislation this session,” commented April Kyle, Southcentral Foundation President and CEO.
This bill is part of modernizing Alaska’s health care system, providing cost-savings for consumers, and improving health outcomes for all Alaskans.
HB 265 will be heard in the House Health and Social Services committee this week on Thursday, February 17th