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ATA: VETS Act Expands Veterans Access to Care, Protects Patient Safety
Date:5/16/2013

Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 16, 2013

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
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