Bipartisan Bill Will Increase Veterans’ Access to Telemedicine

by Published On: Aug 07, 2012

A new telemedicine bill, introduced by Congressmen Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), would help veterans living in remote areas of the country receive health care remotely, even if their clinicians live in another state.

The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2012 (H.R. 6107) would allow health professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as outside VA contractors, to practice telemedicine across state borders if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties.

The bill eliminates the current requirement that providers be licensed in the state where their patients live. Under current law, the VA can only waive this licensure requirement if both the physician and patient are located in a federally owned facility, according to Healthcare Informatics.

VETS Gets Bipartisan Support

The bipartisan VETS legislation was co-sponsored by 14 House members from both sides of the aisle. It was also endorsed by the American Telemedicine Association, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In addition to relaxing licensure requirements for telemedicine practitioners, the bill would:

  • Do away with requirements that veterans travel to a VA facility for care. This opens up the possibility that telemedicine could be delivered in a veteran’s homes or a community center. 
  • Enhance the use of telemental health, which allows providers to reach distant veterans who are dealing with mental health issues and cannot travel to a VA clinic. 

"Veterans have made huge sacrifices for their country,” said Rangel in a statement. “Oftentimes, the price they pay for their courageous service is a serious health condition. They deserve and need the best quality, convenient care we can provide.”

One of Many Telemedicine Innovations at the VA

The VETS bill is the fourth in a series of recent federal initiatives aimed at expanding the use of telemedicine for veterans, according to Healthcare IT News. In addition, the VA has:

  • Dropped co-payments charged to veterans for telehealth consultations.
  • Set a goal of providing 200,000 remote consultations by the end of this year, up from 140,000 last year. 
  • Launched the $15 million Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (SCAN-ECHO) program, which trains and assists health care providers who deliver telemedicine services to veterans.


comments powered by Disqus