Gov. Greg Abbott has waived certain regulations and directed the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to issue an emergency rule to help doctors across Texas continue to treat their patients while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. State actions include:
- TDI filed an emergency rule requiring insurers to pay the same amount for telemedicine services, including covered mental health services, as they do for in-person services. The rule applies to in-network services for state-regulated health plans.
- Gov. Abbott suspended a state law limiting insurance coverage for medical visits and consultations by phone.
- The governor approved the Texas Medical Board’s (TMB) request to suspend state rules blocking the use of phone consultations to establish a physician-patient relationship. Before the change, telemedicine services could be provided only after the physician-patient relationship had been established during an in-person visit.
“This will help protect patients and our state’s health-care professionals while maintaining access to care,” said Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan. “We expect to see large-employer health plans and others not subject to state rules follow suit.”
State-regulated plans cover about 15% of the Texas market, including plans purchased through Healthcare.gov. The insurance cards for state-regulated plans have either “DOI” (for department of insurance) or “TDI” (Texas Department of Insurance) printed on them.