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Utah Bill To Expand Electronic Doctors' Visits Passes Utah Legislature Among COVID-19 Concerns

Photo of a white sign with a drawing of a handshake with a red line through it.
Sonja Hutson
The House of Representatives has been designated a “handshake-free zone” in light of concerns over the spread of coronavirus.";s:

Updated 4:12 p.m. MST 3/12/2020

When Rep. Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake City, started working on a bill to expand telehealth services last year, she was focused on making it easier for people to get treatment for things like eye infections and rashes. 

But as the coronavirus pandemic expands in the United States and Utah, the bill has become even more vital, she said. 

“With the coronavirus, it's really important that our doctors can see you and communicate with you and really help to direct if you should come in or go somewhere else,” Ballard said, referring to concerns over transmission of COVD-19 in healthcare facilities. 

The bill passed the Utah Legislature Thursday and is awaiting the governor's signature or veto.

Currently, many insurance companies only allow a set amount of doctors to do telehealth. This bill opens it up to all doctors, so patients can see their own physician virtually. It allows telehealth patients to request information about the visit be sent to their primary care provider if they meet with a different doctor. 

The bill also allows for more pay parity for telehealth providers by requiring insurance companies to reimburse them at a “commercially reasonable rate.”

“This is important to all of us,” Ballard said. “It's important to the governor … This really needs to be moved forward.”

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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