Houses Passes Telemedicine Bill

The House passed the Delaware Telehealth Access Preservative and Modernization Act (TAPMA) yesterday unanimously (Delaware is just so bipartisan). House Bill 160, sponsored by Rep. David Bentz, ensures that Delawareans will continue to have access to telehealth services, even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The bill permanently codifies key provisions of emergency legislation enacted last summer that expanded the availability of telehealth services for Delawareans in response to the pandemic. Those provisions are set to expire on July 1.

According to the Delaware Health Information Network, demand for telehealth services exploded in the spring and summer of last year. The number of telehealth-related insurance claims jumped from several hundred per month statewide in recent years to a peak of more than 40,000 claims per month in April and May of 2020.

Notably, House Bill 160 would permanently change the rules that required every patient to have at least one in-person appointment with a health provider before telehealth services could be used, provisions which were temporarily suspended in the emergency bill. HB 160 also allows patients who do not have access to an internet connection to receive telehealth services by phone, whereas previous rules required all telehealth visits to be conducted via video. 

Additionally, HB 160 would bring Delaware into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which includes 29 states and creates a voluntary, expedited pathway to state licensure for physicians who want to practice medicine in multiple states. An eligible physician could qualify to practice medicine in multiple states by completing one application within the compact, and receipt of separate licenses from each state in which the physician intends to practice.

HB 160 will now move to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 160 Sponsors Yes VotesNo Votes
Bentz, Briggs King, Heffernan, Baumbach, Brady, Bush, Griffith, Morrison, Osienski, Shupe, M.Smith, Spiegelman, K.WilliamsHouse Passed 41-0. Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Bush Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick
S.McBride, Brown, Townsend, Gay, Hansen, Lopez, Pettyjohn, Poore, Sokola, Walsh
Current Status — Senate Health & Social Services 4/29/21

“Throughout the pandemic, telemedicine has been critical to the delivery of health care services for thousands of Delawareans — from routine check-ups to specialist care for people with chronic conditions,” said Rep. Bentz, who chairs the House Health & Human Development Committee. “By necessity, we’ve learned that telehealth services are an extremely efficient way to deliver health care and make it more convenient and accessible for people from all walks of life. We need to make sure those services remain in place going forward.”

“Making telehealth a permanent part of health care in Delaware will have a real and meaningful benefit for thousands of our neighbors, many of whom live in areas of our state where finding a primary care doctor or mental health counselor can be a real challenge,” said Sen. Sarah McBride, chair of the Senate Health Committee and prime Senate sponsor of HB 160. “Many Delawareans have discovered benefits of telemedicine during the pandemic and this legislation will ensure they continue to have this option available to them long after our current health crisis has subsided. I look forward to quickly passing this bill in the Senate.”

“Our constituents deserve legislation that improves the quality of health care in our state and helps promote the kind of early detection and early interventions that can save lives,” Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend said. “This bill accomplishes both goals in a way that also will make health care more convenient for thousands of Delawareans.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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