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Kansas hospitals, insurers debate reimbursement rates for telehealth visits



KANSAS – Kansas hospitals and physicians are urging state lawmakers to require payers to keep reimbursing telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services even after the pandemic ends, according to an April 13 High Plains Public Radio report.

Some insurers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, have argued that the government shouldn’t regulate telehealth prices, which are normally settled by the commercial market.

“It doesn’t do anything to bring more value to the care,” Sunee Mickle, a vice president at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, told the publication. “It just increases the cost for everyone.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield expects to stop paying in-person rates for remote care in late June; however, Ms. Mickle said the insurer will keep paying higher sums to traditional physicians than to telehealth-only vendors.

In February, the University of Kansas Health System wrote to lawmakers saying it continues to see at least 16,500 telemedicine visits per month, up from the fewer than 100 visits it saw monthly before the pandemic, according to the report. The health system urged the state to make insurers keep current payment policies or else it would be “impossible for hospitals to continue to subsidize telemedicine when it is in high demand,” according to the report.