Michigan Expands Access to Care in Rural Areas
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Posted by: Katie Duensing, JD, Asst. Director, SPPAN
Michigan has greatly expanded access to high quality care in rural areas through the use of telehealth, thanks to the recent passage of Senate Bill 213. Signed on 3/29 and effective immediately, the new law allows a health professional to prescribe a controlled substance via telehealth if they comply with both of the following:
- When considered medically necessary, refer the patient for other health care services that are geographically accessible, including, but not limited to, emergency services.
- After providing a telehealth service, the health professional, or their delegate, shall make himself or herself available for follow-up care or refer the patient to another health professional for follow-up health care services.
Telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services, enabling high quality, specialized care to be delivered to remote patients more easily—patients who otherwise would have had to drive hundreds of miles for specialized care or may have foregone care altogether. However, under Michigan’s previous telehealth law, health care providers could not prescribe controlled substances—vital tools used to treat a vast myriad of health conditions. This prohibition, whether made in error or due to a well-intentioned effort to carefully control prescription medications, was simply not in the best interests of the particular needs of Michiganders, as two out of every three counties in Michigan are classified as “mostly rural” or “all rural”.
To learn more about the importance of this legislation, you can read AIPM’s letter of support that was sent to the Michigan House of Representatives’ Committee on Health Policy.