Doctor on Call? Lawmakers Debate How Much to Pay for Phone Appointments
By Editor - Fri Jun 11, 5:41 am
It took covid-19 to give millions of Americans the option of telling their doctor about their aches and pains by phone. But now that more doctors and patients are returning to in-person appointments, policymakers across the country are divided over how much taxpayer money to keep spending on phone appointments. Although they were a lifeline for Medicaid and Medicare patients who don’t have the technology for video visits, critics say they don’t provide the same level of patient care and aren’t worth the same price. In California, the Democratic-controlled legislature wants the state’s Medicaid program for low-income people — called Medi-Cal — to keep paying for phone calls at the same rate as for video and in-person visits, a policy that began during the pandemic. But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget plan directs Medi-Cal to reduce the rate.