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Bill would require workers comp telemedicine coverage



Washington state legislators are considering a bill that would require the state’s Department of Labor & Industries to pay for telemedicine services under workers compensation claims.

Labor & Industries is Washington state’s monopoly workers comp insurer. Senate Bill 5355 would require Labor & Industries to provide access to telemedicine and reimburse providers for health care services provided to injured workers through telemedicine, according to a copy of the bill posted online.

S.B. 5355 defines telemedicine as "the use of interactive audio and video technology, permitting real-time communication between the patient ... and the provider," and excludes audio-only telephone calls, fax messages, or emails, according to the bill language.

The bill would cover telemedicine services provided by such facilities as hospitals, rural health clinics, physicians’ offices, community mental health centers and skilled nursing facilities.

The Washington state Senate Committee on Health Care is scheduled to hold a hearing on S.B. 5355 on Thursday.