We are kicking off today's blog with great news! West Virginia has now been added to states who have expanded telemedicine to their own citizens and lowered the barriers for telemedicine's out-of-state practitioners.
This is part of a larger growing trend of states who are lowering barriers to telemedicine, and the best part about West Virginia's law is that there are not a lot of restrictions.
West Virginia becomes the latest state to enact some form of telemedicine registration for out-of-state practitioners to practice telemedicine in their state. This means that where the patient is located is where the telemedicine is deemed to occur. (If you don't have a license or a special purpose or registration like West Virginia has just adopted, then you're practicing medicine there illegally, and you can get fined criminally and civilly.)
In this growing trend, we have seen many states now offering what some call "Special Purpose" licenses, more accurately called "Out-of-State Practitioner Registrations."
Up to this point, Florida, for example, has had the most permissive rules, where you can simply register with the Department of State and practice telemedicine in Florida as long as you don't practice there physically or open a physical office in the state of Florida.
More than ten additional states that have similar provisions, but they often place more restrictions on the out-of-state providers. (You can get that complete list at Functional Lawyer.)
Today, West Virginia passed a law that has amended its code. It was just signed by their governor earlier this month (April 2021), and, like Florida, it is very permissive with only a few restrictions. If you want to look it up, head to House Bill 2024 of 2021 Session, amending West Virginia Code 30-1-26 for telehealth practice.
For a refresher, in case you have forgotten your Schoolhouse Rock cartoon jingle, the governor signed this piece of legislation into law, so it is no longer merely a bill. The law then charges the medical board (and other licensing boards including nursing, chiropractic, etc.) to come up with rules to implement this law.
So, while it's effective today as a law already, it will take some time for those medical boards to promulgate the regulations that will allow you to actually register in West Virginia. We're going to be tracking it here for you at Functional Lawyer, and we will keep you posted. Soon you should be able to get your out-of-state registration in West Virginia, most likely in the second quarter of 2021 and definitely before 2022.
We will continue to update you on all the things that are happening with telemedicine laws, licensing, and regulations.
Right now, during the first half of the year, is the time when all the state assemblies and legislatures are getting together for their annual sessions. Excitingly, a lot of them are considering similar legislation, which will be one of the silver linings to come after this global pandemic.
Keep following Functional Lawyer, and we will let you know when this great news out of West Virginia actually becomes actionable, and we will also let you know how to register any additional licensing boards as the information becomes available!