House passes permanent telehealth expansion and flexibilities

JUNEAU – Alaska took a major step to expand telehealth access today, after Rep. Ivy Spohnholz’s bill passed the House floor. House Bill 265, which passed 38-1, would increase Alaskans’ access to health care by making permanent some of the flexibilities patients and providers relied upon during the pandemic.


HB 265 eliminates unnecessary administrative burden on providers and gives health care providers licensed in the state the option to deliver care via telehealth without an in-person visit when appropriate. The bill also requires parity for Medicaid reimbursement rates of all services delivered via telehealth, supporting innovation in the health care sector and ensuring that all Alaskans have access to care. The bill also allows for follow up care with out of state specialists after an in-person exam.


“House Bill 265 removes red tape and barriers to high quality health care delivered via telehealth in Alaska,” said Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D – Anchorage). “Last year, flexibilities for telehealth reduced unnecessary travel for care and saved the state a net 23% in Medicaid costs, even after accounting for increase telehealth utilization. Extending these flexibilities for telehealth will continue to benefit Alaskans and allow the state to spend fewer Medicaid dollars without compromising care.”


HB 265 has received wide support from organizations across the state, including Alaska State Medical Association, Southcentral Foundation, Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities, Alaska Behavioral Health Association, Alaska Association of Retired Persons, Alaska Primary Care Association, Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, Alaska Native Health Board, and Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and dozens more. 


The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Gillham, McCarty, Rasmussen, Schrage, Ortiz, Tarr, Merrick, Fields, Story, Hannan, Drummond, Josephson, Patkotak, Nelson, LeBon, McCabe.

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