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Telehealth for All Act

AB1943: Telehealth for All has been introduced by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D. and is double referred to the Assembly Committee on Health and the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. AB1943 is set for a hearing on April 2, 2024 in the Assembly Committee on Health.


The Problem:
The use of Telehealth must be optimized in California by establishing state policy for all California residents, and begin by prioritizing data collection from the State’s Medi-Cal Program. The purpose of this policy is to increase access to health care and behavioral health by maximizing the use of Telehealth to augment and enhance health and medical care for those who are medically-underserved and to ultimately improve individual patient outcomes and overall population health.

Morbidity and mortality data must be collected which currently is not collected to fully inform Telehealth policy. Population health is influenced by social and economic forces in combination with biological and environmental factors. Measure of health outcomes and the role of social determinants of health allows for consideration of health inequality and inequity.

Further, public health research reveals higher mortality and morbidity for all leading causes of death in low-income households and communities of color. Contributing factors include less access to health care and medical expertise. Thus, the challenge remains to measure to what extent access to Telehealth can reduce adverse health outcomes for residents who are both economically-disadvantaged and medically-disadvantaged.

The Solution:
AB1943 is a vital link in the quest for Health Equity. For California to optimize Telehealth, it must establish State policy that is informed by the Medi-Cal Program and the data that can be collected for enrollees and the providers that serve them. AB1943 would establish a California Telehealth policy to collect Telehealth data and identify indicators that track improvements in individual patient outcomes and overall population. This data collection will illustrate who has access to Telehealth and who does not, who is aided by Telehealth and not, to what extent access improves health care, and who has access to specialty care and to what effect.

Why AB1943 Matters:
The overall thrust of AB1943 is to harness the power of Telehealth technology to increase access to quality healthcare and specialized medical expertise for low-income and medically-disadvantaged Californians. It would require the California Department of Health Care Services to collect data and identify indicators for tracking Telehealth outcomes associated with individual patient outcomes and overall population health to augment and enhance health and medical care for all California residents. It is the next essential step beyond reimbursement parity to drive access to health and medical care through the collection of essential data to ensure “Telehealth For All.”