2023 Bills

HB 159: Greater Telehealth Access for Utahns

This bill passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. Review our tracker for more information.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

Are you struggling with mental health issues and having trouble accessing the care you need? A new piece of proposed legislation in Utah may be able to help. 

House Bill 159, sponsored by Representative Norman Thurston, would allow nonresidents who hold a nonresident healthcare license (issued by another state) to provide telehealth services to patients in Utah. They could do this without being licensed under Utah state laws, as long as certain conditions are met. 

These conditions include that the telehealth service must be one that the individual is licensed to perform in the state that issued the health care license, the patient must be located in Utah, the healthcare provider must be located in the state that issued the health care license, and the service must not violate state law. This exemption from licensure applies in addition to any other exemptions from licensure that may be provided for under Utah state law. 

This legislation has the potential to significantly improve mental health outcomes and increase access to care.

One of the major benefits this legislation presents is that it expands the pool of healthcare providers available to residents of Utah, particularly in rural or underserved areas. By allowing nonresident healthcare providers to offer telehealth services, more patients in these areas can access the care they need, which can be especially important for those struggling with mental health issues.

Telehealth services also have the potential to improve patient outcomes by providing more convenient and accessible care. Many individuals with mental health conditions may have difficulty traveling to a healthcare provider’s office or may not feel comfortable seeking in-person care. Telehealth services allow patients to receive care from the comfort and privacy of their own homes, which can make it easier for them to access the care they need and may lead to better outcomes.

Furthermore, telehealth services can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of care by allowing healthcare providers to see more patients in a shorter amount of time. This can be especially important for mental health care, as many individuals may need ongoing or frequent treatment. By reducing the burden on in-person clinics and allowing healthcare providers to see more patients, telehealth services can help ensure that patients receive the care they need in a timely manner.

By expanding the pool of available providers, improving the convenience and accessibility of care, and increasing the efficiency of the healthcare system, this legislation can help ensure that more individuals in Utah have access to the healthcare they need.