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News / Health / Clark County Health

Clark County residents’ health care split again by state line

End of COVID state of emergency curtails telehealth

By Nika Bartoo-Smith, Columbian staff reporter
Published: November 21, 2022, 7:47pm

Many Oregon health care providers are no longer able to see patients in Washington via telehealth services since Washington’s COVID-19 state of emergency ended Oct. 31.

The end of the state of emergency meant the end of an emergency medical license waiver allowing those out-of-state telehealth sessions.

Washington patients can still see Oregon providers who do not have a Washington license, but only if they see the provider in person or come to Oregon for a telehealth visit, according to Oregon Health & Science University.

Providers see an average of 26,000 patients using telehealth every month at Oregon Health & Science University, according to Mark Lovgren, vice president for digital health. Of those patients, approximately 6 percent are from out of state, the vast majority from Washington.

Oregon Health & Science University is helping to register many providers for licenses in Washington, according to Lovgren.

“We’re committed to seeing Washingtonians,” Lovgren said. “We’ll continue to invest in our providers getting licenses where it makes sense.”

Currently, 400 providers at Oregon Health & Science University have Washington licenses and can see Washington patients via telehealth, according to Lovgren. The goal is to have at least one provider from every speciality licensed in Washington.

At Legacy Northwest in Portland, around 12 percent of outpatient visits are currently done via telehealth, according to Dr. Steven Seres, site medical director and medical director of telehealth at Legacy Northwest. While Washington residents account for only a portion of that 12 percent, Legacy Northwest is giving providers the option to get a Washington license, according to Seres.

To obtain a Washington license, providers are required to find their scores from medical school, go to Seattle to get fingerprinted and pay $900, according to Seres. Though Legacy Northwest will reimburse providers for the cost, many providers are currently opting to not get a Washington license, he said.

“I do dream about a day where Washington and Oregon will have a license compact,” Seres said, explaining that this would allow an expedited pathway for physicians wishing to get licensed in Washington.

Information on the impact of the rules on Kaiser Permanente patients was not available.

Columbian staff reporter