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Arkansas Legislators Reject Telemedicine Bill

March 25, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Arkansas House of Representatives has rejected a bill that would have allowed telemedicine companies to offer video-based care to state residents.

House Bill 1747, sponsored by Rep. Dan Sullivan, would have allowed telemedicine services in the state using doctors licensed and living in Arkansas. "This opens up the telemedicine healthcare door to give access and save hundreds of thousands of dollars," Sullivan said, as reported by Arkansas Online.

The bill was defeated by a vote of 49-21, as opponents expressed concern that telemedicine would be detrimental to patients who actually need to see a physician in person. In the Arkansas Online report, for instance, Rep. Stephen Magie, D-Conway said, “It certainly is an exciting time in medicine…but I think we need to slow this process down. Just because it costs less doesn't mean it's good medicine. It may sound good but I think in the long term it's going to sell our patients short."

However, Sullivan explained in the hearing that the bill specifically addressed “the opportunity to do certain primary care activities, primary care diagnoses over the phone and over video.”  The bill did not include exchanges that were audio-only, email, text messages, or online questionnaire-based, according to Arkansas Online. Proponents of the bill further said that it would give consumers the freedom to choose how and when to receive medical care."This is about a freed bill here, letting consumers and doctors make decisions about health care," Rep. David Meeks said. "This model works in 49 other states."

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