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States begin lifting temporary telehealth rules waivers

States have begun rolling back pandemic workarounds for telehealth that temporarily waived rules requiring licensed clinicians to hold a valid license in the state where their patient is located (Source: “Telehealth’s Limits: Battle Over State Lines and Licensing Threatens Patients’ Options,” Kaiser Health News, Aug. 31).

At least 17 states, including Ohio, still have waivers in effect, according to a tracker maintained by the Alliance for Connected Care, a lobbying group representing insurers, tech companies and pharmacies.

As those rules end, “it risks increasing barriers” to care, said Dr. Brian Hasselfeld, medical director of digital health and telemedicine at Johns Hopkins.

The rollbacks come amid a longer and larger debate over states’ authority around medical licensing that the pandemic — with its widespread adoption of telehealth services — has put front and center.

“Consumers don’t know about these regulations, but if you all of a sudden pull the rug out from these services, you will definitely see a consumer backlash,” said Dr. Harry Greenspun, chief medical officer for the consultancy Guidehouse.