With a Stroke of a Pen, Gov. Newsom Continues California’s Telehealth Policy Leadership Role

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy


On October 14, 2019, California governor, Gavin Newsom, signed into law AB 744, a telehealth private payer parity bill.  Authored by Assemblymember Ceclia Aguiar-Curry(D-Winters), AB 744 was sponsored by the California Medical Association (CMA) and supported by over sixty organizations.  AB 744 was supported by the members of the California Telehealth Policy Coalition.

AB 744 will require contracts issued, amended or renewed after January 1, 2021 between a health care service plan and a health care provider to specify that the provider who delivers services appropriately through telehealth be reimbursed on the same basis and to the same extent that the plan would have had the same service been provided in-person.  The health plan cannot require the use of telehealth if the health care provider has determined that it is not appropriate nor does it limit the ability of the health plan and provider to negotiate the rate of reimbursement for a service.

Additionally, AB 744 made technical clean-up changes to other sections in the law related to telehealth.

Other California telehealth bills signed by Governor Newsom include:

AB 1264 (Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach) – Specifies that an appropriate prior examination does not require a synchronous interaction between the patient and licensee and can be achieved through telehealth, provided the appropriate standard of care is utilized.

AB 1519 (Low, D-Campbell) – Requires that the name, telephone number, practice address and California state license number of any dentist involved in the providing of services, including via telehealth, be made available prior to the rendering of services  and when requested by the patient.

AB 1494 (Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters) – During or immediately following a proclamation of a state of emergency, a face-to-face contact or the patient’s physical presence is not required in an enrolled community clinic for services provided to a Medi-Cal beneficiary.

AB 1642 (Wood, D-Santa Rosa) – Medi-Cal managed care plans will be required to provide the Department of Health Care Services with additional information when requesting alternative access standards when meeting network adequacy. Telehealth is specified as one way to offer alternative access.

SB 24 (Leyva, D-Chino) – On or after January 1, 2023, health care services clinics on California State University of University of California campuses must offer abortion medication techniques, including via telehealth.

Telehealth bill vetoed:

AB 848 (Gray, D-Merced) – Provision of continuous glucose monitors and related supplies for treating diabetes as a covered Medi-Cal benefit. In his veto message, the Governor cited the importance of the equipment and supplies but said it should be considered in the budget process.

For more information on California telehealth policy, visit the CCHP website.  You can also learn more on the work CCHP does as the convener of the California Telehealth Policy Coalition here.