Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Although Massachusetts is embracing telemedicine, as a clinical delivery tool capable of addressing healthcare’s continual problems of access and efficiency, the state has yet to address and fully define, the parameters and requirements for telemedicine, including rules for guide adoption and reimbursements. Despite the lack of regulatory infrastructure and commercial coverage, there has been a tremendous response from providers and hospital systems, who through their own initiative, have successfully integrated telemedicine into their systems of patient care.
In an effort to bridge the distance between telemedicine policy and telemedicine practice, the following legislation is currently pending:
MA Legislation: HB 1810 — Behavioral Health bill mandating telemedicine coverage for behavioral health services; MA Legislation: HB 267 — Telemedicine Services expanding the access allowed by certain clinicians, and requiring coverage for such services by the Medicaid program and private payers; MA Legislation: SB 617 — Telemedicine Coverage provides telemedicine coverage by private insurers and MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid program).
To date, no parity laws have yet been enacted in Massachusetts, that would require private payers to recognize and reimburse telemedicine services at the same rates as the equivalent health care service provided in-person, despite multiple attempts to introduce legislation that would require coverage of services, under Massachusetts Medicaid, state health employee plans, and private insurances.
Current telemedicine requirements, as per the Massachusetts Medical Board, require all health care practitioners providing telemedicine services, to adhere to the same standard of professional conduct and practice, as healthcare practitioners of the same practice or specialty, providing services in-person — with the exception of prescription.
All out-of-state health care practitioners intending to provide telemedicine services, to patients geographically situated in the state of Massachusetts, must first obtain a valid medical license, from the Massachusetts Medical Board, prior to commencing service — however, physician-to-physician (P2P) exemptions apply.
Massachusetts is currently one of five states — including California, Connecticut, Maine, and New York — that does not require an in-person physical examination, to establish a bonafide patient-physician relationship. Instead, healthcare providers may not only establish patient relationships through telemedicine, they may also prescribe non-controlled substances — prescribing “dangerous drugs or devices” via telemedicine, may only be permitted if an in-person examination is conducted first.
Qualified medical marijuana patients please be advised that for the purposes of using medical marijuana telemedicine services online, in Massachusetts:
If you are a qualified Massachusetts medical marijuana patient who has already established a bonafide relationship with a medical marijuana doctor, and want to see a marijuana doctor online and on-demand now, via the medical marijuana telemedicine portal, please click here.
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