NASW-IL Advocacy at Work: Governor Signs HB3308, Making Permanent Many 2020 Telehealth Provisions
NASW-IL was a partner in the Coalition to Protect Telehealth, joining together with 35 other patient, professional, and provider organizations.
A huge thank you goes out to Illinois State Senators Mattie Hunter and Napoleon Harris, Illinois State Representatives Deb Conroy and Thaddeus Jones, the Coalition to Protect Telehealth, and the support of NASW-Illinois Chapter members—their collective effort resulted in Governor Pritzker signing House Bill 3308 (HB3308) into law today, making permanent many of the provisions made in 2020 to allow for safer access to healthcare for all Illinoisans.
The support of our members and 2021 Advocacy Day attendees who contacted their state legislators to get this bill passed was essential in getting HB3308 to the governor's desk today. If you want to continue seeing bills like these pass which greatly impact the social work profession, please consider adding strength to our legislative voice by becoming a member today. Find out more about joining NASW here or click here to join.
More about HB3308
Originally introduced by State Rep. Deb Conroy, HB3308 (formerly HB3498) ensures quality, affordable and safe virtual healthcare that improves patient outcomes by reducing access barriers will continue to be provided after the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, the legislation aligns telehealth coverage and payment with in-person care, making appropriate patient access to care the priority.
Importantly, the new law prohibits geographic or facility restrictions on telehealth services, and allows patients to be treated via telehealth in their home. It establishes that patients will not be required to use a separate panel of providers or professionals to receive telehealth services, nor would they be required to prove a hardship or access barrier in order to receive telehealth services. The law further protects patient preference by establishing a patient cannot be required to use telehealth services.
Additionally, the law gives healthcare providers and professionals the professional latitude to determine the appropriateness of specific sites and technology platforms for telehealth services, while upholding federal and state privacy laws.
Even as in-person visits have resumed, telehealth use has remained at a persistent and significant level, with strong indication from patients, healthcare providers and professionals that this flexibility to access care must be maintained permanently.
Telehealth use has been demonstrated to increase care plan adherence and improved chronic disease management, and in recent surveys, over 70% of Illinois hospital respondents and 78% of community-based behavioral healthcare respondents reported that telehealth has helped drive a reduction in the rates at which patients missed appointments. Surveys of Illinois physicians, community health centers, and specialized mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers have also revealed similar dramatic reductions in missed appointments.
Stakeholders underscored that telehealth should also be embraced as a key strategy to address social determinants of health that can act as barriers to accessing in-person care. Access barriers that exacerbate healthcare disparities such as transportation, lost income, missed work and school, or the stigma of seeking help, are greatly reduced or eliminated when telehealth is used. Patients are empowered to address care needs swiftly, preventing conditions from worsening and requiring unnecessary visits to urgent care or a hospital.
Before the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, 36 states had coverage parity policies and 16 states had payment parity for commercial health plans, but Illinois did not require either. For Medicaid, 21 states had coverage parity policies and 28 states had payment parity. While Illinois offers limited Medicaid coverage for telehealth services, it has no laws that direct the Medicaid program to treat telehealth and in-person services the same for these purposes.
For more information about the Coalition to Protect Telehealth (of which NASW-IL was a partner) and how permanent telehealth coverage offers patient-centered care that improves access, reduces barriers, and promotes equity-driven care, go to: protectillinoistelehealth.org.
More About Telehealth Practice in Illinois:
Updates on Telehealth Practice During COVID-19: https://www.naswil.org/post/updates-on-the-telehealth-practice-during-covid-19
State-by-State Guide to the Rules/Laws About Telehealth Services Across State Lines: https://www.naswil.org/post/state-by-state-guide-to-the-rules-laws-about-telehealth-services-across-state-lines
Past Telehealth Advocacy-Related Articles:
Your Action Needed! Protect Continued Telehealth Access Beyond May 31st: https://www.naswil.org/post/your-action-needed-protect-continued-telehealth-access-beyond-may-31st
NASW-IL Supports Telehealth Access Bill to Protect Virtual Healthcare Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic: https://www.naswil.org/post/nasw-il-supports-telehealth-access-bill-to-protect-virtual-healthcare-beyond-covid-19-pandemic
NASW-IL Advocacy at Work: SB0671 - Extend IL Telehealth through 2020: https://www.naswil.org/post/nasw-il-advocacy-at-work-sb0671-extend-il-telehealth-through-2020