Pennsylvania Expands Telemedicine Access with New Law

TelehealthPhoto by Anna Shvets on

HARRISBURG, PA — On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro signed Senate Bill 739 (previously introduced as SB 739) into law, significantly expanding access to telemedicine for residents across Pennsylvania. The legislation mandates that health insurers and managed care plans must cover telemedicine services just as they do for in-person health care.

Key Provisions of SB 739

The new law amends Title 40 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, specifically focusing on the regulation of insurers. It requires health insurers to pay for telemedicine services if those services are covered when performed in person. This ensures that telemedicine receives the same insurance reimbursement, providing clarity and consistency for providers and patients alike.

Senator Elder Vogel, the prime sponsor of the bill, emphasized the importance of this development. “This is a remarkable milestone for Pennsylvania that has been a decade in the making,” he said. “This law lays the framework for telemedicine access in our Commonwealth – an avenue of health care our residents will now be able to explore and utilize for their benefit.”

Expanding Health Care Access

Governor Shapiro highlighted the significance of the legislation for ensuring equitable health care access. “Every Pennsylvanian deserves to have access to quality, affordable health care when and where they need it – and it shouldn’t be up to an insurance company to pick and choose what they cover,” he stated.

Telemedicine has become increasingly vital, especially for rural communities facing health care shortages. Over the past 20 years, more than 30 rural hospitals in Pennsylvania have reduced services or closed entirely. By requiring insurers to cover telemedicine services, the new law aims to bridge this gap, enabling residents in remote areas to connect with health care providers and specialists without the need to travel long distances.

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Medicaid and CHIP Standards

SB 739 also sets standards for telehealth accessibility under Medicaid (referred to as Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This provision ensures that low-income families and children have access to essential telemedicine services, aligning with the broader goal of making health care more accessible and affordable for all Pennsylvanians.

Collaborative Efforts

The passage of SB 739 was the result of years of bipartisan advocacy. Senator Vogel and other General Assembly leaders worked tirelessly to garner support and push the bill through the legislative process. Their efforts, along with collaboration from health care providers and other stakeholders, culminated in a law that promises to transform health care delivery across the state.

Regulatory Oversight

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) is now empowered to oversee the implementation of this law. The PID will ensure that telemedicine services and treatments remain covered by insurers, maintaining the integrity and accessibility of telehealth options.

Pennsylvania’s Health Care Revolution

The approval of SB 739 represents a significant step forward in modernizing Pennsylvania’s health care system. As telemedicine continues to evolve, this law provides a robust framework for integrating digital health services into everyday medical practice. It paves the way for greater innovation and could serve as a model for other states looking to expand their telehealth capabilities.

With the signing of SB 739, Pennsylvania takes a bold step towards ensuring all residents have access to necessary health care, regardless of their location. This landmark legislation not only addresses immediate needs but also sets the stage for a more connected and equitable health care future.

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