DC Council Passes Audio Telemedicine and Loan Repayment Provisions July 29, 2020
Written by MSDC Staff
As part of a contentious debate over the District's FY21 Budget Support Act, the Council passed two provisions that will help physicians practice, especially in underserved medical areas.
The first provisions was an amendment to the Telemedicine Reimbursement Act of 2013. The original bill established telemedicine reimbursement policy but had prohibited audio, e-mail, and fax telemedicine reimbursement. The current public health emergency has shown that many residents actually need audio telemedicine because of unreliable internet connections, not having adequate video streaming technology, or other technology issues. The DC Medicaid program has seen a large number of audio telemedicine appointments during the public health emergency, especially for behavioral health appointments. The new language strikes audio telemedicine as prohibited, allowing it to continue after the public health emergency expires.
The second provision of note was the funding and structuring of the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP). The program repays the education loans of medical professionals who served for a period of time in underserved medical areas in the District. The new language offers specifics for the program, including:
- The program will pay for the cost of obtaining a health professional degree including outstanding principle, interest, and related expenses of state, federal, local, and commercial education loans.
- Physicians who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, or other in-need medical specialties as identified by DC Health can have 100% of their total debt (up to $200,000) repaid by the loan program over four years if they provide full-time service in Wards 7 and 8.
- The program also adds a retention incentive fund for DC Health to award, in addition to the loan repayment program.