HB 2454 Would Expand Access to Health Care in Arizona

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Posted by Sheridan Nolen on Monday, March 1st, 2021, 3:21 PM PERMALINK

Arizona could soon become a model state for telemedicine and telehealth. 

Rep. Regina Cobb’s House Bill 2454 would remove a number of barriers that block the use of telemedicine and telehealth services in the Grand Canyon State. If implemented, this bill would give Arizonans access to some of the nation's best innovative technologies in the health care industry.

“Arizona is a leader when it comes to innovative policy solutions,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “It was the first state in the country to grant universal license recognition, making it easier for new residents to get jobs. Now, thanks to Rep. Cobb’s leadership, Arizona could soon become one of the most telemedicine friendly states in the country.”  

HB 2454 would change the word “telemedicine” to “telehealth” in Arizona statutes, which is more inclusive of providers that are not physicians. Among other things, this bill would also allow patients and providers to engage in audio-only telephone visits; would allow for the use of asynchronous, or store and forward, telehealth to be used to establish provider-patient relationships and to prescribe; and would allow healthcare providers who are licensed and in good standing in other states to provide telehealth services to Arizonans. 

Together, these reforms would be a huge win for patients and consumers across Arizona, as they would no longer be forced to take off of work or school and take on the costs and complications of driving to an in-person appointment. By making it easier for Arizonans to connect with health care providers, HB 2454 would increase the odds of problems being caught while they are small, manageable, less expensive. 

“Telehealth helps ensure Arizonans have access to safe and reliable medical services,” tweeted Gov. Ducey in support of the legislation. “It expands resources for those in need and in rural areas, and it helps protect vulnerable populations. Arizona is proud to lead on this issue!” 

To fight COVID-19, Gov. Ducey issued orders that allowed Arizonans to temporarily benefit from a number of the reforms included in Rep. Cobb’s bill. In addition to making it possible for Arizonans to access medical providers without having to risk getting sick in a doctor’s office or hospital, those orders were also a big win for people living in rural areas, who may not have great access to health care in general, and those in need specialists located several hours away. 

Indeed, a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded that the vast increase in telehealth medicine users in 2020 was not fueled by COVID-19 concerns, but by visits for other health concerns for patients who had difficulty accessing care. 

HB 2454 would make Arizona a national leader in telemedicine and telehealth. This would be a huge win for all Arizonans, as it will increase the number of options for patients, improve quality of care, and naturally drive the costs down. 

Photo Credit: NEC Corporation of America

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