Ohio’s Pandemic Telemedicine Flexibilities for Physicians Extended to End of 2021
In March 2020, the State Medical Board of Ohio issued guidance temporarily relaxing Ohio’s telemedicine rules for physicians, permitting physicians to use telemedicine in place of in-person visits in many circumstances for the duration of Ohio’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration. With Governor DeWine’s termination of the state of emergency in June of 2021, the Medical Board is now planning to resume pre-pandemic telemedicine rules for physicians at the end of the year.
At a June meeting, the Medical Board decided to resume enforcing the pre-pandemic telemedicine rules effective September 17, 2021, 90 days after the lifting of the state of emergency order. However, at a subsequent meeting on August 11, 2021, the Medical Board reconsidered and delayed the enforcement date to December 31, 2021. The Medical Board noted that it had received “an overwhelming stakeholder response” expressing concerns about the resumption of enforcement Ohio’s telemedicine rules in light of the increase of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant. The Medical Board acknowledged the pandemic’s changed circumstances and agreed to extend the enforcement moratorium through the end of 2021. In conjunction with the meeting, the Medical Board published an FAQ document summarizing the new extension and Ohio’s telemedicine rules more broadly.
At the August meeting, the Medical Board also discussed Ohio’s telemedicine rules and guidance more generally, debating whether an update to the rules was warranted in light of the experience of the pandemic. Specifically, the Medical Board considered the issue of telemedicine’s role in addressing the Opioid crisis. While, some members of the Board expressed resistance to the idea of expanding telemedicine too far, as a whole, the Board acknowledged the need to continue to work with stakeholders on the issue. In light of this, we may expect to see further changes to Ohio’s telemedicine rules. As of now though, the pre-pandemic rules regarding telemedicine are scheduled to resume on December 31, 2021.