Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.)have introduced the TELEmedicine for MEDicare (TELE-MED) Act of 2015 that would permit Medicare providers licensed to practice physically in one state to treat patients electronically across state lines.
The bipartisan legislation is an attempt to address the fact that state licensure laws make it more difficult to practice telemedicine in other states. Under the TELE-MED Act, a Medicare participating physician or practitioner would be able to provide services to a Medicare beneficiary across state lines without being licensed in that patients state as long as the provider is licensed or authorized to provide that service in their own state.
The antiquated physician licensure system hinders physicians from treating their patients remotely, particularly across state lines, said Joel White, executive director of the Health IT Now Coalition, in a written statement. 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.
However, as the Center for Connected Health Policy points out in an analysis of the bill, if that provider has other out-of-state patients who are not in Medicare, the TELE-MED Act would not apply. In addition, because there is no mention of Medicaid in the legislative language, it would not apply to state Medicaid programs.
The TELE-MED Act is an important step towards a healthier America. By expanding the reach of medical resources while reducing the cost and increasing quality, the legislation will provide access to a large portion of the country that is currently underserved, said Rep. Pallone in a written statement. The bill alleviates the problem of doctor shortages and brings the delivery of healthcare into the 21st Century by connecting providers and patients virtually.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, every state imposes a policy that makes practicing medicine across state lines difficult regardless of whether or not telemedicine is used, but barriers are softening.
Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas extend a conditional or telemedicine license to out-of-state physicians, while Montana enacted a law this year to repeal their telemedicine license in favor of a full unrestricted license requirement for out-of-state physicians, according to ATA.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Health Data Management content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access