Equal Pay for Doctors Using Telemedicine

TMA Testimomy by Thomas J Kim, MD, MPH

House Insurance Committee
House Bill 2348

April 7, 2015

Good evening, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Dr. Thomas Kim. I’m an internist and a psychiatrist here in Austin. Today I’m testifying on behalf of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) representing more than 48,000 physicians and medical students in strong support of House Bill 2348.

I would like to begin by thanking Rep. Four Price for his determination in bringing this issue to the attention of the committee. It was my pleasure in March 2013, during the last session, to have supported his efforts, and I return once again in support of payment parity for telephone consultation services. 

The telephone continues to represent a useful tool enabling physicians and patients to communicate in a timely and effective way. 

The benefits of the phone in health care have led to the development of some interesting models that demonstrate a positive impact in both maintaining appropriate care (such as refilling prescriptions) and avoiding inappropriate care (such as unnecessary emergency department visits). 

This has led some payers to construct and pay for telephone consultation services as a benefit for the members they insure. I think this is great. …

BUT … the part I struggle with is that these beneficial telephone services typically are staffed by health care professionals who have no relationship with the patient. Moreover, telephone activities by physicians and health care providers with a relationship to these same patients continue to remain largely uncompensated. The result of this situation is the diversion of patient issues away from those best suited to resolve the issue. These same physicians and providers are equally and, in some ways, better equipped not only to resolve the issue but also to determine the optimal quality-based response, based on direct knowledge of the patient. 

HB 2348 seeks to resolve this situation logically by establishing payment parity for a useful and effective activity performed by nearly every physician in Texas.   

I sincerely hope the committee agrees with Representative Price and the Texas Medical Association in supporting HB 2348.

I thank you for your time and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

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Last Updated On

May 20, 2016

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