Abbott waives certain regulations for telemedicine care in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott has waived certain regulations in Texas relating to telemedicine care.

He has also directed the Texas Department of Insurance to issue an emergency rule relating to telemedicine care for patients with state-regulated insurance plans to help Texas doctors treat their patients while mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Abbott's office says the suspensions and emergency rule will work together to allow telemedicine visits to be paid the same as in-office visits for insurance purposes. These actions build upon waivers Abbott issued last week of portions in the Occupations Code to expand flexibility in providing medical services over the phone.

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 "As the State of Texas responds to COVID-19, we continue to work to maintain regular health care services and operations throughout the state, and telemedicine is one of the most valuable tools we have to ensure Texans continue to receive the health services they need," said Abbott. "Expanding telemedicine options will help protect the health of patients and health care professionals, while help Texas mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

Doctors will be eligible for payment from insurance plans regulated by TDI for medical visits over the phone instead of in-person at the same rate they would receive for in-person visits. The Texas Medical Board will issue guidance on the impact of the new rules in the coming days, including administrative guidance for billing to ensure claims are processed smoothly.

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Insurers seeking guidance on implementation of the emergency rule should contact TDI or visit their webpage for more information.

Texans covered by CHIP or Medicaid will not be charged copays for test or telemedicine consults. Individuals covered by Medicare or large employer plans should check with their health plan administrator to determine their specific benefits.