Telehealth Concerns

A number of state medical associations and the AMA www.ama-assn.org/ama  recently wrote a letter to four members of Congress that included Senate Chairs John McCain from Arizona www.mccain.senate.gov/public, Jack Reed from Rhode Island www.need.senate.gov and Representatives Mac Thornberry  from Texas https://thornberry.house.gov and Adam Smith from the state of Washington https://adamsmith.house.gov.

The letter referred to section 705 of the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) which is titled “Enhancement of Use of Telehealth Service in the Military Health System.” The medical associations and the AMA are particularly concerned with the language in NDAA (section 705(d) titled “Location of Care” in the Senate version that would alter the point-of-care from the location of the patient to the location of the provider.

The letter further states, “Changing the applicable state laws from the location where the patient is located to the state where the healthcare provider is located affects state licensure, medical liability, and reimbursement issue and does not achieve the intended outcome.

Enacted section 705(d) would dismantle accountability mechanisms needed to ensure patient protection because state licensing boards where the patient is located would lack authority over practitioners licensed in another state.

The medical profession advocates that state licensing boards and the FSMB www.fsmb.org streamline and simplify the medical licensure process. A workable solution is rapidly advancing through the FSMB’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

The Compact is currently enacted in 17 states and is under active consideration in a growing number of other states. The approach proposed under section 705 (d) would depart from the philosophy of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and Nurse Licensure Compact.

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