Senator Jon Tester introduced the “Rural Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S.1155) on June 12, 2013 to provide appropriations for specific information technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs to enable mental health professionals to engage in training or for other purposes.
The Act requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a report to both the Senate and House Committees on Veterans Affairs that includes information on telemedicine services and issues that may be impeding how these services are provided at the VA.
The issues in the legislation that may be impeding telemedicine provided by the VA are;
- Statutory or regulatory restrictions
- Licensure or credentialing issues for any provider practicing telemedicine with veterans who live in a different state than the provider
- Limited broadband access in rural areas
- Limited information technology resources or capabilities
- Distances that are needed to be traveled by veterans to have access to a facility or clinic with telemedicine capabilities
- Insufficient liability protection for providers
- Reimbursement issues
- Travel limitations for providers that are unaffiliated with the Department and are seeking to participate in a telemedicine program within the Department
Information will also be required on the VA’s efforts to carry out teleconsultations for remote mental health and TBI assessments. An update will be required from the VA on their efforts to offer training opportunities in telemedicine to medical residents. The report will have to provide an update on the VA’s efforts to partner with primary care providers so that they are able to install video cameras and instruments in homes to monitor weight, blood pressure, and other vital statistics.
On the House side, Representatives John Conyers Jr. from Michigan and George Miller from California on June 25, 2013 introduced the “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2013” (H.R 2480) that would issue an occupational safety and health standard involving safe patient handling, mobility, and injury prevention in order to reduce injuries to patients, nurses, and all other healthcare workers.
A growing number of healthcare facilities incorporating patient handling technology and practices have reported positive results. Injuries among nursing staff and healthcare workers has dramatically declined at healthcare facilities implementing the safe patient handling of technology, equipment, devices, and practices.
To continue the decline in injuries the legislation includes a requirement that each healthcare employer establish a review program to analyze data relevant to the implementation of the employers’ safe patient handling, mobility, and injury prevention program. Healthcare employers upon request will need to make their findings and the data used after their review available to healthcare workers.
Both bills have been referred to Committees. S. 1155 has be sent to the Committee on Veterans Affairs and H.R 2480 has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and to the Ways and Means Committee.
For more information on these bills, go to www.thomas.gov.