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COVID-19: New Florida Executive Order on Telehealth and Immunization Coverage for State Employees During Public Health Emergency

On March 26, 2020, as part of Florida’s response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting state of emergency, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-85 (the Order), mandating insurance coverage for telehealth services and certain immunizations for state employees under the State Group Insurance Program (SGI). The State of Florida offers comprehensive insurance benefits through the SGI to eligible full-time or part-time state employees, retirees, spouses, and other dependents identified in subsection 110.123(2), Florida Statutes. 

The Order goes into effect immediately, and directs the Department of Management Services, which administers the SGI, to make the following changes related to telehealth and immunization coverage: 

Telehealth

  1. Amend the state employee health benefits plan documents to include telehealth services at no additional cost to state employees. Interestingly, the introductory language of the Order appears to limit the Order to existing in-network or contracted Florida-licensed telehealth providers, which seems inconsistent with other recently issued Executive Orders, which have expanded the pool of telehealth providers to out-of-state medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners (Executive Order 20-002), and later, out-of-state licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and psychologists (Executive Order 20-003).

  2. Amend the state employee pharmacy benefits plan documents to include telehealth services to employees participating in the SGI plan. Telehealth pharmacy services generally allow patients to have remote access to pharmacists, who can provide remote drug counseling, dosing guidelines, medication management guidance, and information on generic or alternative options, without the need for an in-person, face-to-face interaction.

  3. Ensure that all state employees have access to telehealth services through the state’s contracted HMO and PPO plans without cost-sharing obligations (i.e., deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, or similar charges).

Immunization

  1. Amend the state employee health plan benefits plan to allow employees participating in the State Employees’ Group Insurance Program the option to receive immunizations covered by the employee’s plan in either a participating physician’s office under the participant’s current PPO Plan Group Health Insurance Plan Booklet or a participant’s current HMO contract, or a participating pharmacy in the State Employees’ pharmacy benefit manager’s network.

  2. Waives all cost-sharing obligations (i.e., co-pays or deductibles) relating to the influenza vaccine for state employees. 

The Order, which seeks to encourage vital employees to remain at home in order to contain the spread of the virus, is less comprehensive than those of other states that have issued orders expanding coverage for telehealth services during the emergency, such as Massachusetts. The Order is effective throughout the duration of the emergency period (until the expiration of Executive Order 20-52, or any extensions thereto).

For additional web-based resources available to assist you in monitoring the spread of the coronavirus on a global basis, you may wish to visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization

© 2020 Foley & Lardner LLP

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Rachel Goodman Health Care Attorney Foley Lardner Tampa
Senior Counsel

Rachel B. Goodman is a senior counsel with Foley & Lardner LLP, and a member of the firm’s Health Care Practice Group and national Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team. Hardworking, creative and dedicated to her clients, Rachel’s practice focuses on representing a wide array of clients nationally with transactional and related regulatory issues in the health care industry including health care providers, physician groups, hospitals, health systems, pharmacies, laboratories, home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation agencies...

813.225.4158
Sunny Levine Health Care Lawyer Foley Lardner
Associate

Sunny J. Levine is a health care lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, and member of the firm’s Telemedicine & Digital Health and Health Care Industry Teams working with hospitals and health systems, physician practice groups, and technology companies across the country. Sunny’s practice focuses on federal and state regulatory compliance and business issues in the health care industry. She also works with companies offering highly regulated consumer products, such as medical marijuana and alcohol beverages.

Telemedicine & Digital Health Experience

Sunny’s practice includes regulatory compliance issues associated with telemedicine and digital health, and health innovation. She helps companies navigate state and federal laws and regulations governing telemedicine and digital health for multi-state footprints, including state corporate practice of medicine restrictions, forming a valid provider-patient relationship, licensure requirements, telemedicine prescribing, and informed consent.

Selected, representative matters include:

  • Asynch Direct to Consumer: Advised a start-up company providing nationwide telehealth services through a direct-to-consumer, asynchronous (store & forward) telemedicine platform. Drafted suite of operational contracts and documents for company, including professional service agreements, privacy agreements, technology agreements, and patient-facing materials. Provided guidance on state-specific laws and regulations on prescribing weight loss and lifestyle medications via telemedicine
  • Digital Ocular Health: Advised ophthalmology and optometry groups on federal and state vision laws, including co-location requirements and fraud abuse issues
  • Telemedicine Legislative Tracking: Advised an academic medical center on pending or newly enacted telemedicine laws, regulations, and regulating board policies throughout the U.S., and U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico)
813.462.7712