The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of telehealth in delivering critical health care when patients are not able to receive services in person. California is now moving swiftly to ensure that Californians have access to the services they need through telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. This past weekend, Governor Newsom issued an executive order suspending certain state law privacy and consent requirements during the COVID-19 emergency, to enable providers to more readily provide services by telehealth. This executive order complements a move by the federal Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights to relax enforcement of certain federal privacy laws for providers delivering services by telehealth during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, California’s state agencies have already taken action to ensure that services are available through telehealth and covered by insurance. Learn more about what California is doing in our fact sheet on changes in Medi-Cal to make services available by telehealth as well as our fact sheet on changes to private insurance to increase access by telehealth during the pandemic.
California has made clear that health care programs have an obligation to ensure that all Californians have access to the services they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, both health plans and providers should take the steps needed to ensure that services are available by telehealth to the extent possible and appropriate.