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Board Of Medicine Dropping Telehealth Rules

The Florida Board of Medicine has agreed to eliminate its rules governing telehealth after the Legislature approved a bill that authorized out-of-state physicians to use technology to treat Florida patients remotely. 

Board of Medicine Chairman Steven Rosenberg said “it’s premature to say” whether the board will move to adopt new rules. Board attorney Ed Tellechea advised that the board’s rules were duplicative after lawmakers this spring passed a measure (HB 23) that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law June 26.

The new law creates a regulatory framework for telehealth, which involves using the internet and other technology to treat patients remotely. Such legislation has long been a priority for the insurance industry, and the bill received heavy backing from House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, during the 2019 legislative session.

The bill, however, included disappointments for Florida physicians, who have sought to beat back efforts to allow out-of-state doctors to treat patients in Florida. Also, Florida doctors pushed unsuccessfully for requirements that insurance companies pay physicians who provide telehealth the same as if they were providing care in person.

The bill requires out-of-state physicians to register with Florida health officials before providing telemedicine. But DeSantis vetoed a separate bill (HB 7067) that authorized the state to charge a $150 registration fee to out-of-state physicians, a veto that irked Florida doctors.

“I think that’s the part that’s particularly disturbing,” said Rosenberg, a dermatologist from West Palm Beach. “Because it means that the Florida physicians who pay licensing fees here will absorb the costs of physicians who are out of state. And if there is a problem or complication as a result of a physician being licensed out of state, those patients are ultimately going to be seen in the emergency rooms and treated here in Florida at the expense of the Florida health care system. I think there are some concerns.”

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