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Proposed rule would let VA caregivers practice telemedicine across state lines

Rule would increase the availability of mental health, specialty and general clinical care for all beneficiaries.

Bill Siwicki, Managing Editor, Healthcare IT News

A new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs proposed rule would allow VA telehealth providers to more easily administer care across state lines.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs proposes to amend its medical regulations by standardizing the delivery of care by VA healthcare providers through telehealth," states the proposed rule, which will officially be published Oct. 2. "This rule would ensure that VA healthcare providers provide the same level of care to all beneficiaries, irrespective of the state or location in a state of the VA healthcare provider or the beneficiary."

This proposed rule would achieve important federal interests by increasing the availability of mental health, specialty and general clinical care for all beneficiaries, the proposed rule added.

[Also: Almost all large employers plan to offer telehealth in 2018, but will employees use it?]

This proposed rule will be instrumental in breaking down geographic barriers that for too long have prevented the nation's veterans from accessing the care they need where they need it, said Joel White, executive director of Health IT Now, a coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers and payers supporting health information technology to improve patient outcomes.

"By allowing VA telehealth providers to more easily treat patients across state lines, we can ensure that recent advances in technology-enabled care reach the most deserved among us and spur better outcomes for the 20 million veterans in the VA system today," White said.

[Also: Telehealth may increase overall health spending and utilization despite lower cost per episode, says Health Affairs]

Health IT Now hopes for timely implementation of a final rule and is continuing to urge Congress to build on this administrative action with permanent legislation in the form of the bipartisan, bicameral VETS Act of 2017.

The Veterans E-health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 allows a licensed healthcare professional of the Department of Veterans Affairs to practice his or her profession using telemedicine at any location in any state, regardless of where the professional or patient is located.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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