Missouri Missing Telemedicine Opportunity
Time’s running out on this year’s session, and Missouri’s legislature has yet to act to preserve key telemedicine reforms. A few months ago, I wrote about the regulatory and statutory changes needed to keep the telemedicine momentum going, and I even expressed optimism that one of the many bills filed on the topic would make it across the finish line. In the weeks that followed, those bills appear to have lost traction (along with many other legislative priorities). With just a few days left before legislators head home for the year, time is of the essence if our elected officials want to avoid missing this golden opportunity.
There haven’t been many silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic, but one is the rapid growth of telemedicine services. Of course, the ability to see your healthcare provider from the comfort of your own home was available prior to 2020, but various laws and regulations kept the service from becoming a popular option. But once the pandemic began and most of the unnecessary barriers were waived as part of Missouri’s response to the virus, the service surged in popularity.
Now that the pandemic is receding and telemedicine is much more popular, Missouri’s legislature needs to act to allow the service’s growth to continue. As I wrote a few months ago, state statutes need to be changed to allow health care providers to more easily write prescriptions for patients they’ve seen remotely. It should also be easier to establish a doctor–patient relationship remotely. While telemedicine may not be the answer to every health problem, it’s clear the service provides tremendous value in many circumstances, and government should not stand in the way.
As we near the end of the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers now face the tough task of deciding which bills will or won’t make the cut this year. I hope our elected officials act on what was learned over the past two years (besides how to spend more taxpayer money than ever before) and permanently enshrine the COVID-era telemedicine access provisions into law.