Recently at the General Assembly

The Cranston Herald ·

Committee approves bill to permanently enact telemedicine insurance requirement

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee recently voted to approve legislation that would permanently require health insurers to comprehensively cover telemedicine visits.

An executive order put in place March 18 required insurers to cover telemedicine visits as a means to allow Rhode Islanders to access health care without having to leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation (2020-S 2525A), sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), would bring back the requirement permanently.

“Telemedicine is an excellent option for patients. It makes medical and behavioral health care access more convenient for providers and patients, which will encourage people to seek care when they need it. It’s effective and affordable for both patients and doctors, and it can cut down on the transmission of illnesses because it means sick people don’t have to venture out to see their doctor. It has undoubtedly been a lifesaver here in Rhode Island during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Miller said. “Our experience with telemedicine during the pandemic shows that it is practical and useful to Rhode Islanders. Offering it as an option permanently would improve our health care delivery and make it more user-friendly.”

The legislation expands access to telemedicine services by: allowing patients to receive telemedicine services at any location; permitting the delivery of telemedicine by audio-only telephone; requiring that all telemedicine services be reimbursed at rates not lower than the same services would have been had they been delivered in-person; prohibiting health insurers from imposing cost sharing and prior authorizations requirements for telemedicine services; requiring that the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) apply for any federal waivers necessary to ensure that individual Medicaid beneficiaries have access to telemedicine services; and authorizing the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner and EOHHS to promulgate telemedicine rules and regulations.

The bill will now be forwarded to the full Senate for consideration.

Millea bill would caps classroom sizes in light of pandemic

Rep. Christopher T. Millea (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) is saying his legislation (2020-H 7050) that would mandate public school classroom sizes be limited to 20 students for kindergarten through grade two classes is more important now than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on our state’s school systems.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this was already an important bill that benefited our children in over-stuffed classrooms and the dedicated teachers struggling to effectively educate too many of their students in one classroom setting. Now that we have entered a world where social distancing is vitally important and the exact nature of the upcoming school year is being debated, this legislation is a necessity to ensure that our children receive the proper and safe education that they rightfully deserve and to protect the teachers who may be more susceptible to COVID-19 infections,” Millea said.

According to the legislation, exceptions to the class size limit could be made for emergencies and temporary situations that do not exceed more than three days. Mid-year enrollments when it would be impractical, educationally unsound, or disruptive to student learning to not assign the student to an existing class of maximum size are also classified under exceptions to the proposed legislation.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Finance.

general assembly, telemedicine, classrooms


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