by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a bill into law that creates more options for telehealth patients and more protections for providers.
The law, in the works for nearly a year, drew praise from The American Cancer Society Action Network and The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based policy group that has pushed for expanded services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill passed the House in April, and the Senate approved an amended version in early December.
“It is imperative that quick access to quality health care is available to everyone and by passing House Bill 122 the Ohio State Legislature ensures that all Ohioans have access to the proper physical and mental health treatment,” Rep. Mark Frazier, R-Newark, said. “This legislation will allow healthcare providers and patients to take full advantage of modern technology all while not raising healthcare costs and allowing the greatest flexibility for physicians and patients to determine quality care.”
The law expands telehealth services to psychologists and school psychologists; audiologists and speech-language pathologists; occupational therapists and physical therapists; occupational therapy assistants and physical therapist assistants; professional clinical counselors, independent social workers, and independent marriage and family therapists; independent chemical dependency counselors; certified Ohio behavior analysts; dietitians; optometrists with therapeutic prescriptive authority; pharmacists; chiropractors; respiratory care professionals; and genetic counselors.
It also expands the number of services covered by Medicaid and stops health benefit plans from making telehealth cost-sharing more expensive than in-person.
Health care providers also are protected from liability from claims the services do not meet the standard of care that would apply to in-person services.
The law goes into effect March 23.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is a regional editor for The Center Square.