The expertise, experience, and perspective of physicians and physician assistants practicing in Washington is crucial to helping to inform
our advocacy on your behalf. And, it's often crucial in helping to inform legislators' decision-making on policy being debated at the state
and federal levels.
On this page, we'll highlight some of WSMA's top advocacy priorities where lawmakers need to hear from physicians and PAs directly.
Urge the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to Continue Support for Telemedicine Payment Policies
In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner implemented Emergency Order 20-02, requiring OIC-regulated fully insured health plans to pay at parity for medical services provided via telephone and requiring all state-regulated carriers to permit and reimburse for care provided over non-HIPAA compliant platforms, including video chat applications. Recently, the OIC extended its emergency order to Jan. 10. Please take a moment to thank the OIC for these flexibilities and urge them to continue to support telehealth/phone consultation at payment parity with in-person visits through the duration of the public health crisis.
Send a message to the OIC by sending an email to MikeK@oic.wa.gov. (Note: You will receive an automatic response that you can disregard.) We've supplied messaging if helpful.
My name is [Name], I am a [Physician at Location], and I write to thank you for the telemedicine flexibilities you have provided and urge your to support for the continued extension of Emergency Order 20-02 for the duration of the public health crisis.
Physicians and practices need certainty that these policies will remain in effect as the pandemic continues to play out in Washington state so that there is no interruption in our ability to provide care to our patients.
Telemedicine, including care provided over the telephone, has emerged as a critical tool for physicians by allowing patients to see their them conveniently and safely, without the need to travel and without the risk of exposure to, and potential spread of, the virus.
OIC Emergency Order 20-02, requiring OIC-regulated fully insured health plans to pay at parity for telephone services and requiring all state-regulated carriers to permit and reimburse for care provided over non-HIPAA compliant platforms, including video chat applications, will should be extended through the duration of the public health crisis.
It’s important that everyone continue chronic care management and routine care without disruption or delay, to ensure that patients are being properly managed during this time of social distancing. Telemedicine, including telephone, offers physician practices the ability to manage acute or chronic conditions unrelated to COVID-19, including certain primary care, pediatric care, behavioral health, and other services.
With the telemedicine (audio/visual) payment parity provisions of SB 5385 fully effective on Jan. 1, 2021, it’s still important that care provided over the telephone or over non-HIPAA compliant platforms continue to be at payment parity with in-person visits through the end of the public health emergency, so that there is no interruption in physicians’ ability to provide care to their patients.
Like virtually all of our state’s businesses, physician practices have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Telemedicine payment parity has been a life raft for many of our state’s practices, helping to keep practices afloat and facilitating access to care for patients across the state. We thank the OIC for its previous emergency orders providing for payment parity for services provided over the telephone or non-HIPAA compliant platforms, and urge you to continue to extend these provisions until the end of the public health emergency.