ATA: VETS Act Expands Veterans Access to Care, Protects Patient Safety

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The American Telemedicine Association strongly supports the proposed Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act (H.R. 2001,) lauding it as a key step in improving healthcare quality by minimizing regulatory barriers for interstate telemedicine.

American Telemedicine Association

American Telemedicine Association

Access to quality healthcare is, ultimately, the foremost safety issue for the patient

The American Telemedicine Association voices its strong support for the new Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act (H.R. 2001) as one key step in lowering regulatory barriers to 21st century healthcare. The bi-partisan bill, introduced by Representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and cosponsored by 21 Members of Congress, would permit U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health professionals to treat veterans nationwide with a single state license.

This bill, known as the VETS Act, builds on the unanimous congressional enactment of the 2011 STEP Act (Servicemembers' Telemedicine and E-Health Portability Act,) which provides a similar provision for healthcare providers in the U.S. Department of Defense. A similar licensing rule for patients and providers of Medicare, Medicaid and other major federal health programs was included in a comprehensive telemedicine bill submitted by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) in December 2012.

“These bills are a simple way, while preserving the states’ role to license, to address shortages of medical specialists, to improve patient access to the best qualified physicians, and to accommodate mobile Americans and multi-state health plans,” said Jonathan Linkous, Chief Executive Officer of the American Telemedicine Association. “They accommodate both patient choice and patient safety. We would like to see a similar act for all federal patients and providers.”

Presently, most providers who practice interstate telemedicine must be licensed both where the patient and provider are physically located. Such regulation increases the cost of healthcare and is an artificial barrier, favoring the business interests of local physicians over patient choice. Some state medical boards are even imposing stricter licensing requirements for telehealth providers than they do for in-person care, such as requiring a prior face-to-face examination for each and every case.

“Access to quality healthcare is, ultimately, the foremost safety issue for the patient,” concluded Linkous. “It’s time that we allow patients to make an appointment and see a qualified licensed health provider regardless of where the patient or provider is located."

About the American Telemedicine Association

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership, works to fully integrate telemedicine into transformed healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information visit http://www.americantelemed.org.

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Ben Forstag
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