House Bill To Address Telemedicine Licensing Barriers Reintroduced
July 21, 2015 in News
Last week, Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) reintroduced a bill (HR 3081) that would allow licensed providers to treat Medicare beneficiaries via telemedicine across state lines, Health Data Management reports.
The bipartisan bill — called the Telemedicine for Medicare, or TELE-MED, Act of 2015 — seeks to address state licensure laws, which can make it difficult for providers to practice telemedicine in states other than where they are licensed.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, all 50 states have policies that limit doctors’ ability to practice across state lines, though some states are easing such barriers.
The bill only would apply to Medicare beneficiaries and would not allow providers to treat Medicaid beneficiaries or other patients across state lines, according to the Center for Connected Health Policy.
Pallone called the bill “an important step towards a healthier America.” He added, “By expanding the reach of medical resources while reducing the cost and increasing quality, the legislation [would] provide access to a large portion of the country that is currently underserved.” Pallone added that the measure would help “alleviat[e] the problem of doctor shortages and brin[g] the delivery of health care into the 21st Century by connecting providers and patients virtually.”
Joel White, executive director of the Health IT Now Coalition, in a statement said, “The antiquated physician licensure system hinders physicians from treating their patients remotely, particularly across state lines.” He added, “Many Medicare patients, often due to medical, transportation or financial restrictions, are unable to travel long distances to receive care. This bill brings the doctor to the patient wherever they may be, to help ensure all Medicare beneficiaries have access to care” (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/20).
However, the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards have said they oppose the measure, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth” reports (Pittman/Tahir, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 7/17).