In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency (Pandemic), on April 2, 2020, Governor Brad Little of Idaho issued a proclamation (Proclamation) that suspended 18 regulations (in addition to the 125 previously suspended administrative regulations) to increase access to telehealth and enable medical professionals to obtain necessary licenses more seamlessly in an attempt to better position the state to respond to the Pandemic.
By way of background, Idaho enacted the Idaho Telehealth Access Act in 2015. The Idaho Telehealth Access Act provides the standards of telehealth practice in Idaho, including defining telehealth services, the requirements for forming and sustaining the patient-provider relationship, and prescribing via telehealth. In March 2020, the Idaho State Legislature passed House Bill No. 342, which amended the Telehealth Access Act with several significant changes, including:
- Defining telehealth technologies as “synchronous or asynchronous telecommunication technologies capable of assisting a provider to deliver patient health care services, including but not limited to assessment of, diagnosis of, consultation with, treatment of, and remote monitoring of a patient; transfer of medical data; patient and professional health-related education; public health services; and health administration;”
- Deeming both two-way audio and audio-visual interaction sufficient methods for establishing a provider-patient relationship; and
- Making a patient’s home an acceptable originating site for the purposes of telemedicine.
Although the law addresses important barriers to the delivery of telehealth, the law does not become effective until July 1, 2020.
Under the Proclamation, Governor Little suspended various sections of the currently effective Telehealth Access Act, including 54-5705 and portions of 54-5707. Section 54-5705, which required a provider to establish a provider-patient relationship by using two-way audio and visual interaction, is completely suspended, while 54-5707, which regulates prescribing, is partially suspended.
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