On March 25, 2020, Arizona governor issued an Executive Order that takes the state one step further toward combatting the threat of the growing coronavirus crisis. The order requires health insurance agencies to now expand their coverages for telemedicine services to include all equivalent services that would otherwise be covered were the patient to receive them during an in-person appointment.
The order that was signed on this day also keeps insurance companies from charging patients more money for a telemedicine appointment than they would charge for an appointment in person. It mandates that all Arizona State Medicaid plans cover Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) members for every health care service already considered covered benefits regardless of whether it is provided in person or via telemedicine. At the same time, however, the order forbids those same plans from providing discounted rates for members who opt to receive their health care services via telemedicine instead of in person.
The order is clear that insurers are now required to consider Arizona residents’ homes as legitimate approved locations for receiving telemedicine services. It also forbids any regulatory body from mandating that a medical professional authorized to provide prescriptions conduct a patient examination in person before issuing a prescription. Covered methods of receiving health care services under this new order include telephone calls, video conferences and all other electronic methods of tele-health delivery.
The aim of the new order is to help make sure that state residents who are ill or under quarantine can still gain access to vital health care services without having to leave their homes. By helping people to obtain health care services in their home, the goal is to prevent in-person visits to a health care provider that could pose risk to the patient, health care workers and general public alike.
Governor’s executive order requiring expanded telemedicine coverage for Arizonans remains in effect until the public health emergency declared around the coronavirus is terminated.
Governor’s action takes place one day after he made strides in guaranteeing health care access to Arizonan children getting care through KidsCare and vulnerable Arizonans getting care through AHCCCS. On that day, March 24, 2020, Governor also helped to free many more doctors in the state to provide the medical services most needed to face the COVID-19 crisis.