Your Action Needed! Protect Continued Telehealth Access Beyond May 31st
NASW-IL is a member of the Coalition to Protect Telehealth, joining together with 35 other patient, professional, and provider organizations. Below is an update on a House Bill 3498 which we previously reported on back in February 2021.
PLEASE NOTE: House Bill 3308 has been amended to include most of the provisions we supported in House Bill 3498 including pay parity for behavioral health. With the addition of Senate Amendment 1, we now fully support House Bill 3308 Senate Amendment 1 (HB3308 SA1).
Early in the pandemic, the Illinois governor and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) lifted longstanding barriers to healthcare via telehealth for commercial health plans and Medicaid. In response, healthcare providers rapidly invested in new technology, adjusted clinical workflows, and educated staff, patients, and clinicians on telehealth delivery. This resulted in dramatic increases in the use of telehealth services.
Telehealth use has driven a reduction of missed appointments, increased care plan adherence, and improved chronic disease management.
Access barriers that exacerbate healthcare disparities such as transportation, geographic isolation from healthcare providers, lost income, missed work and school, or the stigma of seeking help are greatly reduced or eliminated when telehealth is used.
Telehealth empowers patients to address care needs swiftly, preventing conditions from worsening and requiring unnecessary visits to urgent care or a hospital.
Without action by the Illinois General Assembly, providers will not have the certainty they need to continue investing in and utilizing new care delivery tools-and Illinoisans will abruptly lose access to the telehealth services they have relied on during the pandemic.
Amended House Bill 3308 (HB3308 SA1) establishes the following protections:
Bars insurers from requiring patients to prove a hardship or access barrier in order to receive healthcare services through telehealth.
Prohibits geographic or facility restrictions on telehealth services, allowing patients to be treated via telehealth in their home.
Protects patient preference by establishing that a patient cannot be required to use telehealth services.
Ensures patients will not be required to use a separate panel of providers or professionals to receive telehealth services.
Aligns telehealth practice with privacy laws for in-person practice, while giving healthcare professionals the latitude to determine the appropriateness of specific sites and technology platforms for telehealth services.
Aligns telehealth coverage and payment with in-person care, making appropriate patient access to care the priority and removing harmful barriers that shift costs to the patient and healthcare professional.
We need your help to urge your state senator to support amended HB3308. This bipartisan legislation will ensure Illinoisans continue to have access to innovative telehealth services after the governor's executive orders that have expanded the use of telehealth services in Illinois expire on May 31, 2021. Passage of this bill will reduce mental health access barriers and improve patient outcomes.
We hope you will consider taking 2 minutes out of your day to send this very important action alert.