Michigan Telemedicine Prescribing and Controlled Substance Laws

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, recently signed into law SB 213, clarifying that health professionals in Michigan may prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without an in-person examination. The law reverses a 2016 telehealth bill that prevented providers from prescribing controlled substances via telehealth technologies.

Under the new law, a health care professional treating a patient via telehealth may prescribe a drug if both requirements are met:

  • The health professional is a prescriber acting within the scope of his or her practice in prescribing the drug; and
  • If the health professional is prescribing a controlled substance, he or she meets the requirements applicable to that health professional for prescribing a controlled substance.

The law also requires the prescriber to comply with both the following:

  • If the health professional considers it medically necessary, he or she must provide the patient with a referral for other health care services geographically accessible to the patient, including emergency services; and
  • After providing a telehealth service, the health professional, or a health professional acting under the delegation of another health professional, must make himself or herself available to provide follow-up health care services to the patient or refer the patient to another health professional for follow-up health care services.

The law also requires the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, in consultation with its respective professional licensing boards, to promulgate rules to implement the law’s provisions regarding telehealth services.

Michigan now joins a growing number of other states (e.g., Delaware, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, and West Virginia) that have enacted laws expressly allowing telemedicine prescribing of controlled substances. This is encouraging news for providers using telemedicine in their practice, as controlled substances are an important and clinically significant component of certain specialties, including telepsychiatry, endocrinology, and hospitalists/emergency medicine.

Telemedicine prescribers should continue to also be mindful of prescribing requirements under federal laws, as remote prescribing of controlled substances is governed by the Ryan Haight Act. Providers must understand and navigate many intersecting state and federal laws on telemedicine, medical practice, fraud and abuse, and controlled substances.

© 2017 American Health Lawyers Association. Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission.