Study of Participating and Nonparticipating States' Telemedicine Medicaid Reimbursement Status: Its Impact on Idaho's Policymaking Process

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Although Medicare currently reimburses for telemedicine services, advocates are struggling to increase state Medicaid reimbursement. This study provides data from a national study of Medicaid telemedicine reimbursement policies and examines Idaho as a case study for developing telemedicine reimbursement policies. Idahoans have actively advocated for Medicaid telemedicine reimbursement by forming a statewide network. Working with policymakers, Idaho Medicaid and telemedicine advocates established interpersonal connections, providing policymakers information and support. With developing academic, private, and legislative interest, a window of opportunity opened to allow for positive, albeit minimal, movement. To establish protocols for Idaho's use of telemedicine, a national electronic policy survey was conducted to evaluate the direction of telemedicine policy in state Medicaid agencies. Surveys to explore Medicaid reimbursement status were sent to states that were both participating and non-participating in telemedicine. Responses were received from 10 of the 25 states providing Medicaid telemedicine reimbursement and 17 of the 25 states and one U.S. territory not providing reimbursement. Issues common among participating states included provider and reimbursement complications, allowable services, and modification of reimbursement codes. Nonparticipating states indicated an interest in reimbursing for telemedicine and a need to enhance advocate and state Medicaid agency relationships. In addition, the survey results demonstrated the need to provide cost–benefit analysis on the viability of Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine. Research outcomes were used to develop Idaho's Interactive Video Telemedicine Protocols. These address identified barriers and fears regarding Medicare reimbursement and state budgetary concerns—the additional major issue identified for state Medicaid agencies.