In our January 26, 2021 blog post “Permanency for Out of State Telehealth Services? Arizona Seeks to Make Permanent Changes to Licensure Requirements”, we discussed Arizona’s push to make permanent resolutions to the temporary telehealth exceptions issued in connection with the public health emergency (the “Pandemic”). In that article, we also noted that Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, as part of his “State of the State” address, proposed permanent changes to healthcare access which would allow Arizona residents to access healthcare providers through the use of telemedicine.  As of May 5th, we have begun to see the first steps in implementing those changes.

On May 5, 2021, Governor Ducey signed House Bill 2454 (the “Bill” or “HB2454”) which aims to dramatically expand the use of telemedicine in Arizona and provide greater opportunities for accessible healthcare services. The Bill will make telemedicine exceptions provided to Arizona residents through Executive Order 2020-15 (the “E.O.”) permanent. The E.O. issued on March 25, 2020, was aimed at creating parity between in-person visits and remote telehealth services. HB2454 expands on the E.O. by increasing access to telemedicine for patients and ensuring that doctors receive equal compensation from insurance companies for telemedicine services, and also allows out-of-state health care professionals to provide telemedicine services in Arizona.

As quoted in a May 5, 2021 News Release (the “News Release”) issued by the Office of the Governor, Rep. Regina Cobb, the Bill’s original sponsor, is quoted as saying that “Telehealth was an extremely valuable tool during the pandemic. It’s helped Arizonans get in contact with health care providers, mental health specialists, speech therapists, and more from the safety of their home.” HB 2454 aims to continue those efforts by ensuring that Arizona residents receive medical service in a safe and convenient manner.

In addition to parity for telehealth services, the Bill also provides that medical examinations in the worker’s compensation space can also be conducted via telehealth if all parties consent. It also prohibits healthcare boards from enforcing any rule that requires a patient to visit in-person before being prescribed most medications.

HB24524 goes into effect immediately and covers the three 2020 Executive Orders issued by Governor Ducey to expand telehealth. As of the date of signing, those Orders have been rescinded.

The Bill puts Arizona at the forefront of telehealth expansion and has received favorable support by a number of Arizona healthcare providers and provider systems such as Touchstone Health Services.  As quoted in the News Release, Eddy D. Broadway, Chief Executive Officer of Touchtone Health Services, states that, “Telehealth has proven to be an invaluable aspect of delivering behavioral and integrated health service to individuals and families that would not have received those services otherwise during the pandemic….We are so excited and pleased that telehealth is now a permanent aspect of the service delivery system and will definitely benefit members that we serve — a real game changer.”

We will continue to monitor the roll out of additional telehealth regulations across the country in our “State of Telehealth” series.