The Senate Banking & Insurance Committee today (January 30) approved legislation introduced by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.
Senate Bill 780 specifically defines telemedicine as “the delivery of health care services provided through telecommunications technology to a patient by a healthcare practitioner who is at a different location.” It also establishes guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services, and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
“Telemedicine is transforming healthcare and it is something our state should embrace and encourage,” Senator Vogel said. “Through the use of telemedicine, specialists and other health care providers are able to expand their reach, helping patients stay in their communities and avoid traveling long distances for specialized care. That will not only save costs, but it could save lives as well.”
“Telemedicine can vastly improve the availability of healthcare options for people in rural or urban areas, lower the cost of healthcare, and strengthen the bond between patients and their doctors,” Senator Vogel said. “Telemedicine is especially vital for patients who suffer from chronic illness, seniors who are homebound and families who live in rural areas where they would have to travel very far to receive medical care. We need to make this option available for all Pennsylvanians.”
While Senate Bill 780 would make substantial changes in the health care industry, physicians and other health practitioners delivering telemedicine services would still be required to follow standard state licensure and medical practice laws and requirements in Pennsylvania.
The bill establishes that services that are covered by insurance for in-person visit would also be reimbursable for telemedicine, but the measure gives insurers latitude in determining the amount that is reimbursed.
Senator Vogel’s bill is supported by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Medical Society and AARP.
CONTACT: Cheryl Schriner Cschriner@pasen.gov