Former lawmaker lobbies for bill to let docs practice telemedicine across state lines

Former Rep. Bill Gradison (R-Ohio) advocates for a telemedicine bill in the House that would allow doctors to treat Medicare patients across state lines in a post on The Hill's Healthwatch.

The TELEmedicine for MEDicare (TELE-MED) Act (H.R. 3077) would allow a doctor who has an established relationship with a patient to offer treatment to that patient anywhere in the United States without having to obtain multiple state medical licenses.

Gradison calls the current medical licensure laws an example of policy not keeping up with advances in technology.

"Take for example, a senior living in Ohio who regularly sees their doctor to manage their diabetes, no problem right? Well what happens when that senior travels to Florida in order to avoid the Ohio winter? In the current system, that senior has to find another doctor in Florida who isn't up to speed on the current treatment plan and medical history. Wouldn't it be easier for the senior to stay in contact and receive care via telemedicine with their current doctor they know and are comfortable with?" he writes.

The Department of Defense already offers telemedicine under this policy, he points out, and the Department of Veterans Affairs also recognizes that virtual visits can be more cost-effective.

He calls the bill a "simple solution to a growing problem."

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), was introduced in September. A similar bill was introduced in the House in January. One from 2012 that would have allowed VA providers to practice across state lines was not enacted, nor was a previous bill to expand federal reimbursement for telehealth services.

A lawyer for the Massachusetts Medical Society recently argued before the state Division of Insurance that state licensure should be required, especially if a doctor is diagnosing patients remotely. He cited concerns about malpractice insurance valid in that state as well as adherence to state laws.

To learn more:
- read the post
- here's the legislation