The health care reform bill recently passed by the Senate Finance Committee includes telemedicine-related provisions, but some health care experts say the legislation does not go far enough, Scripps Howard News Service reports.
Darrell West, vice president of the Brookings Institution, said, "There needs to be policy changes that recognize the virtues of telemedicine."
West said that telemedicine can help reduce costs, increase efficiency and empower patients.
Karen Rheuban, medical director of the Office of Telemedicine at the University of Virginia Hospital, said the main barrier to telemedicine adoption is the lack of reimbursement from Medicare and many private health plans. She added that the federal government has not invested enough in telemedicine.
Rheuban said, "We are absolutely desperate for an alignment of policies to make this work."
Ellen Blackler, executive director of public policy at AT&T, said lack of reimbursement and limited Internet access make it difficult to put new health care technologies on the market (Mullin, Scripps Howard News Service, 10/20).