The Honorable Jessica K. Altman
Pennsylvania Insurance Department
1311 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Re: Improving Access to Telehealth Services during the State of Emergency in Pennsylvania
Dear Commissioner Altman:
On behalf of the more than 3,600 members of the Allegheny County Medical Society, we urgently request that you issue an order applicable to all health insurance companies operating in Pennsylvania to expand payment for telehealth services. During this state of emergency, Pennsylvanians enrolled in Commercial and Medicare Advantage plans now face uncertainty in accessing care normally provided in clinical settings. We ask you to order health insurance plans to increase the scope of covered telehealth services commensurate with the March 17th Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services expansion of telehealth benefits. A Pennsylvania order should:
- Allow all in-network providers to deliver clinically appropriate, medically necessary covered services to members via telehealth, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19.
- Allow the use of non-public facing remote communication for providers to communicate with patients.
- Require that reimbursement of in-network providers for services delivered via telehealth is not lower than the rates of payment established for in-person services.
Other states such as California and Massachusetts have already taken action to require that all medically necessary telehealth services are delivered in the same manner and to reimburse providers at the same rate as in-person services. This action is needed in Pennsylvania given the muddled response of the health insurance companies doing business in this State. Providers must be able to confidently provide telehealth services during the state of emergency. Patients should not have to worry about red tape and the financial burden incurred should their insurer deny coverage for such care. We ask for your leadership to require the health insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania to do their part to help contain the spread of this acute public health danger and thereby issue an order to this effect.
Adele Towers MD MPH FACP CRC Chair, Allegheny County Medical Society Board of Directors
William K Johnjulio, MD
President, Allegheny County Medical Society