Where you live, your ability to access transportation and the availability of medical specialists in your area all can play a part in preventing you from receiving quality medical care. But telemedicine services allow you to get the care you need from the comfort of your own home and receive lifesaving care from providers regardless of where you live.
Telemedicine uses electronic communication—two-way video, smartphones, and other telecommunications technology—to provide any variety of health care services, from consultations with specialists and standard sick visits to mental health counseling and chronic illness monitoring.
Some Pennsylvanians enjoy telemedicine offerings through their providers or their insurers, but not all Pennsylvanians. Coverage and reimbursement for health care provided through telemedicine is inconsistent across the commonwealth.
Passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 857 would help to ensure that telemedicine services are offered to everyone.
Sponsored for the third consecutive session by Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver, the legislation would define telemedicine, establish consumer protections to ensure that care is delivered by licensed clinicians, and provide clarity around insurance company reimbursement for these services. The bill requires insurers to cover and reimburse for telemedicine services but allows the payments to be established between the provider and insurer.
Expanding insurance coverage and reimbursement for telemedicine services is a key element of the proposal, which passed the Senate last year but ran out of legislative session days before it could be sent to the Governor. Hospitals and other providers across Pennsylvania that want to invest in and expand telehealth services—and patients who want to access them—need to know that insurance companies will cover and reimburse for those services.
Telemedicine carries multiple benefits. It improves access to health care, helps hospitals continue to improve the delivery of care, and saves patients time and money. Telemedicine can:
- Save rural Pennsylvania residents the time and cost of lengthy trips to see specialists
- Deliver lifesaving care remotely to a patient in a small neighborhood hospital
- Help with in-home medical monitoring
- Ease a shortage of medical providers in many areas of the state, especially in the mental and behavioral health field
Telemedicine services are focused on delivering the right health care at the right time in the right setting. Encourage your legislators to support Sen. Vogel’s telemedicine bill. It’s time for Pennsylvania’s laws to keep up with changing medical practices and technology, and this telemedicine legislation is the way to do it.