Telehealth and the Pandemic

Check this out. What you will see is a Medscape article reporting that in order to facilitate telemedicine during the pandemic, CMS is “temporarily suspending” rules prohibiting physicians from using this medium across state lines.  

That got me thinking about the word “temporarily.” It has never been clear to me why medicine in the U.S. is a patchwork quilt of 50 disparate pieces. And now, when we really need a united front to fight the war against COVID-19, we have 50 fragmented efforts with the Federal Government serving as “backup.”  

I asked a physician friend about this rule change. She reported that yes, the rules now let her consult across state lines. BUT. Her malpractice carrier has told her that if and when she chooses to do so, she will be on her own in terms of liability coverage.

Bottom Line. Maybe something good will come out of this pandemic after all. Maybe the powers that be (?) will wake up to the stupidity of having a physician’s telehealth purview stop at her state’s borders. Maybe, just maybe, they will convert “temporarily” to “permanently,” and drag the malpractice insurance companies along for the ride!  

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