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Arizona Gov. Ducey signs bill to make telehealth services permanent

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PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed a bill making telehealth services enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent as well as expand access.

Ducey signed an executive order last March requiring health care insurance companies to expand telehealth coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit to allow people to safely quarantine at home while still getting care.

The bill – HB 2454 – also allows medical examinations in the worker’s compensation space to be conducted via telehealth if all parties consent and prohibits healthcare boards from enforcing any rule that requires a patient to visit in-person before being prescribed most medications.

Health care professionals licensed in other states can also provide telehealth in Arizona under certain conditions.

“Telehealth expands access to medical services for low-income families and those living in rural areas, protects vulnerable populations and allows snowbirds visiting our state to receive telemedicine from their home state,” Ducey said in a press release.

“Patients and medical professionals know what’s best for their needs, and we’re working to make sure they have access to those services.”

State Rep. Regina Cobb, who sponsored the bill that passed both the state House and Senate with bipartisan support, said telehealth was “an extremely valuable tool during the pandemic.”

“It’s helped Arizonans get in contact with health care providers, mental health specialists, speech therapists and more from the safety of their home.”

“HB 2454 will continue those efforts and ensure that those living in Arizona receive medical service in a safe and convenient manner,” Cobb added.

The bill also requires medical insurers to provide payment parity for telehealth services using audio and visual features.

The legislation goes into effect immediately.

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