A new bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives would allow veterans affairs (VA) health professionals, including contractors, to practice telemedicine across state borders.
The bill, H.R. 2516, the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2015, was introduced last week by U.S. Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). More specifically, the legislation would permit health professionals to practice telemedicine across state borders if they are qualified, and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties. Currently, the representatives say, overly cumbersome location requirements can make it difficult for veterans—especially those struggling with mental health issues—to get the help they need and deserve.
Under current law, the VA can only waive the state license requirement for treatment if both the physician and patient are located in a federally-owned facility. The Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2015 removes these barriers and allows the VA to provide treatment through physicians free of this restriction. Veterans will no longer be required to travel to a VA facility, but rather can receive telemedicine treatment from anywhere, including their home or a community center.
When our service men and women are called to duty, they do so selflessly with only the country in mind,” Thompson said in a statement. “When they return home, it is our shared duty to be there for these heroes, by making lifesaving resources readily accessible. The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act will eliminate multiple layers of bureaucracy, allowing our veterans to have greater access to mental and behavioral health services, especially in rural areas,” Thompson added.