New bill Aims To Remove Coverage Restrictions Of Telemedicine

Erin McCann | Government Health IT | January 4, 2013

A new bill introduced Sunday in the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, would expand telehealth services in Medicare and Medicaid programs has garnered the support of The American Telemedicine Association.

The Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012 (H.R. 6719), sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), would increase federal support and payments for telehealth services nationwide. The bill would establish a federal reimbursement policy, wherein “no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system.” If passed, the bill would increase access to telemedicine within Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, TRICARE, federal employee health plans and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to removing coverage restrictions to telemedicine, the bill would provide a new federal standard for medical licensure, officials add. Consistent with legislation already passed by Congress for military healthcare, providers in all federal health plans would only need to be licensed in the state of their physical location and would be free to treat eligible patients anywhere in the nation...