ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Health care advocates are calling for money to be set aside for telehealth in the New York State Budget. They want doctors to get paid equally for telehealth and in-office visits. The issue is incorporated into the Senate’s one-house budget, but not the Assembly’s.

Before the pandemic, telehealth visits were not very common. Now, it’s something doctors use frequently to supplement patient care. “In rural settings, there might be one car for the whole family,” explained Dr. Ashanda Saint Jean, Chair of OB/GYN at Health Alliance.”They may not have that opportunity to come back, but they still need their results, or they still need to discuss a medical matter with their provider.”

“It should be identical payment because the infrastructure associated with the physician associated with the service is the same,” said Morris Auster, Senior Vice President for the Medical Society of the State of New York. He said he worries about doctors not getting paid fairly for telehealth visits, because without compensation, they won’t be able to provide service.

“When you’re dealing with consultations, consultations can be in person, they can be done virtually and therefore the payment should be equal because it’s about the intellect of that decision or that consultation that counts,” said Assemblymember John McDonald.

While budget negotiations are still underway, Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed $150 Million for IT infrastructure and telehealth capabilities for eligible providers. The state budget deadline is April 1.