Telehealth Coverage Continues to be Voluntary for Health Insurers.

The passage of the Telehealth bill does not actually require health plans to cover services delivered via telehealth.  With an effective date of January 1, 2020, the bill creates a new Section 627.42396, F.S., which reads, “A contract between a health insurer issuing major medical comprehensive coverage through an individual or group policy and a telehealth provider, as defined in s. 456.47, must be voluntary between the insurer and the provider and must establish mutually acceptable payment rates or payment methodologies for services provided through telehealth.” Subsection (45) also was added to Section 641.31, F.S., which mirrors this language for health maintenance organizations.

The language only clarifies that contracts signed by insurers with telehealth providers be “voluntary” with mutually acceptable rates or payment methodologies and requires the telehealth provider to initial any contract provision that would cause telehealth reimbursement to be different than reimbursement for the same services provided in person. Unfortunately health plan reimbursement continues to be a stumbling block for telehealth providers and patients as Florida remains among the minority of states without telehealth insurance coverage. What does this mean for Medicaid? We are working with the Agency to encourage that current coverage stays “as is.”

Your Agency’s Psychiatric ARNPs may now Prescribe to Children in the Child Welfare Setting.

The passage of HB 7099, which became law on July 1, authorizes psychiatric nurses to obtain consent for and prescribe psychotropic medication to dependent minors and advise the court and DCF on any continued need for psychotropic medications and other services. The bill amends s. 39.407, F.S., to allow psychiatric nurses to prescribe psychotropic medication to dependent minors, obtain express and informed consent from parents for such prescribing, and advise the court and DCF on continued need for psychotropic medications and other services while a child is in DCF care.

The bill also amends s. 39.407(6), F.S., to require the court to conduct an initial hearing to review the child’s residential treatment plan within 60-days after the child’s admission to the residential treatment program. This change complies with federal FFPSA requirements. Judges will now have to review the child’s placement in a residential treatment center within 60 days rather than 3 months.

Needle Exchange Approved, but only Certain Sites may be Exchange Sites

SB 366 expands the Miami-Dade pilot program to exchange used syringes for clean ones on a one-to-one basis, and offers HIV testing and referrals for drug treatment or other health care. In order for a new location to be opened, the county commission must adopt a county ordinance and have a Letter of Agreement by the local health department stating that they will seek their guidance. Additionally, the only entities eligible as safe exchange sites are: health care clinics, medical schools with accreditation, non-profit HIV/AIDS service organization, and addictions receiving facilities. 

Background Screening Reform Inches Closer to Reality

HB 369 is an omnibus substance abuse bill that clarifies recovery residence and patient brokering laws. It also makes significant changes to background screening. Included in those changes:

  • Peer specialists must be certified and pass a level 2 background check if they receive public funds
  • Behavioral health workforce within Chapters 394 and 397 will be held to a higher Level 2 screening standard to include qualifying offenses in both 435.04 and 408.809, F.S.
  • Agency determination on exemptions from disqualification applications must be made within 60 days
  • The agency can limit the exemption (i.e. recovery residences, adult substance abuse, or adult co-occurring settings)
  • Employees may work within Chapter 397 in substance abuse or co-occurring settings for up to 90-days under direct supervision while the exemption from disqualification is under review (Note: Only applies if it has been 5 or more (3 years for peers) years since all court ordered sanctions have been met)