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SCR94/SR80 would authorize study telehealth in Hawaii

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on March 22, 2024.
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March 22, 2024, 1 p.m.
Hawaii State Capitol
Conference Room 225 and Videoconference

To: Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
      Sen. Joy A. San Buenaventura, Chair
      Henry J.C. Aquino, Vice-Chair

 From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
            Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns

COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF SCR94/SR80 — REQUESTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A TELEHEALTH WORKING GROUP TO EXAMINE THE IMPACT OF WIDESPREAD TELEHEALTH ADOPTION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND IDENTIFY PUBLIC POLICY INITIATIVES AT THE FEDERAL AND STATE LEVEL TO OPTIMIZE TELEHEALTH UTILIZATION AS THE STATE TRANSITIONS OUT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Aloha Chair, Vice-Chair and other Committee members,

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to comment in support of SCR94 and SR80, which look to establish a telehealth working group.

The purpose of the working group would be to examine the impact of widespread telehealth adoption during the COVID-19 lockdowns and identify policy initiatives that might build on that experience in order to optimize telehealth usage in Hawaii.

Telehealth provides a wonderful opportunity to mitigate the problems related to healthcare access and staffing shortages that have had a significant effect on healthcare in Hawaii.

The COVID-19 crisis was instrumental in showing the potential of telehealth as a way to improve healthcare outcomes. Moreover, the experience of Hawaii and other states under emergency orders related to telehealth demonstrated that removing barriers to out-of-state telehealth access was helpful to both patients and providers.

In an upcoming policy brief, the Grassroot Institute examines ways in which the state could improve outcomes and expand healthcare access by removing regulations that prevent Hawaii patients from receiving telehealth from out-of-state providers.

This is a strategy that has been embraced by other states with great success. Twenty-six states have special license or telehealth registration programs that allow out-of-state doctors to offer telehealth services.

Idaho, for example, allows licensed doctors to offer telehealth care to patients with whom they have an established relationship but are in the state only temporarily.[1]

And Florida recently created a system that allows licensed out-of-state providers to practice telehealth by registering with the state medical board and agreeing to certain conditions such as liability coverage.[2]

Hawaii’s geographic challenges make telehealth expansion a necessity. We commend the Legislature for seeking ways to remove barriers to telehealth in Hawaii.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Ted Kefalas
Director of Strategic Campaigns
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
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[1] “Cross State Licensing: Idaho,” Center for Connected Health Policy. Feb. 13, 2024.
[2] Ibid.

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