On Sunday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced a bill (HR 6719) that would expand government health insurance coverage for telehealth services, Healthcare IT News reports.
Targeted Government Health Insurance Programs
The bill -- called the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012 -- aims to increase access to telehealth care for U.S. residents who receive health insurance through:
- The Children's Health Insurance Program;
- The Department of Veterans Affairs;
- Federal employee health plans;
- Medicare; and
- TRICARE, which provides health benefits for military personnel, retirees and their families.
Details of the Legislation
The bill would establish a federal reimbursement policy so that "no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system."
Under the bill, health care providers in government health plans would need to be licensed only in the state where they are located to provide telehealth services to eligible patients anywhere in the U.S.
American Telemedicine Association Supports Bill
Jonathan Linkous -- CEO of the American Telemedicine Association -- in a statement said, "This is a major step forward in Congressional support for telemedicine and would extend the benefits of telehealth and [mobile health] to nearly 75 million Americans."
He added that Thompson "clearly understands that telemedicine is a value -- for patients, for the government and for the American taxpayer."
On Sunday, Thompson's bill was referred to a House subcommittee (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 1/3).