CTeL Board Member Participates on Congressional Briefing Panel

There has been effort by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) to push forward telemedicine legislation.

Senators Schatz and Wicker spoke at a briefing on Thursday, July 14 on the topic of telemedicine. They urged support for Senate Bill S2484, “Connect for HEALTH Act.” The bill would serve to promote cost savings and quality care under the Medicare program through the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring services.

A synopsis of telemedicine activities and the successful use of telemedicine to deliver needed care across distance, and to specific populations was offered by:

Dr. Karen Rheuban of the University of Virginia and CTeL Board Member provided an overview of the University’s Medical Center’s extensive investment, and pioneering work in telemedicine over the past 20 years. She noted that while the federal investment in telemedicine has been large and reflects the government’s recognition of the value of telemedicine, the Medicare system has been slow to keep pace, underscoring the need for enactment of the Connect for Health Act.

Reese Jones of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), speculated that the US will see an uptake in the adoption of telemedicine as more providers learn and become comfortable with the telemedicine, as more patients gain access, and as broadband availability increases nationwide.

Elizabeth Joseph of the University of Mississippi Medical Center noted that telemedicine has increased access to care for residents in the state that has the lowest number of physicians per capita in the country.

Dr. Neil Evans of the Veterans Health Administration offered statistics on how telemedicine is successfully treated veterans that would not otherwise receive care.

This session of Congress is quickly coming to a close on January 3, 2017. Given the timing, and the procedural steps necessary for a bill to be considered, it will be difficult for any legislation introduced now to be enacted before the end of the session. But, the telemedicine community remains hopeful that Senate Bill S2484, “Connect for HEALTH Act.” will be picked up in the 115th Congress, in January 2017.

Click here to see Senate Bill S2484.

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