Bipartisan Legislation Would Create Federal Definition of Telehealth

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WASHINGTON, DC – On December 17, 2013 Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over health care and technology issues, introduced bipartisan legislation to create a federal definition of telehealth.  The Telehealth Modernization Act of 2013 would provide principles that states can look to for guidance when developing new policies that govern telehealth.

“With technology rapidly changing and reaching every aspect of our daily lives we must ensure the regulatory environment keeps pace,” said Congresswoman Matsui.  “The Telehealth Modernization Act will create a nationwide telehealth definition to provide clarity regarding the scope of healthcare services that can be safely delivered via telehealth. The bill will spur innovation and research in the delivery of healthcare, while improving patient care and increasing efficiency. ”  

“The opportunities telehealth can provide to the constituents of my district and to Americans around the country hold significant promise,” said Congressman Johnson.  “Having worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, I know first-hand the benefits associated with technological innovation.  In rural districts such as my own, telehealth can increase access to quality care and lower costs.  I’m proud to have introduced this common sense bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Matsui.”

Telehealth is a major contributing factor to increased health care quality, convenience, and lower costs.  However, there currently are 50 separate sets of rules as to what type of care can be provided.  This often leaves both providers and patients in a state of uncertainty.  The Telehealth Modernization Act will provide guidance to states as they look to utilize telehealth technologies in the safest, most secure manner possible.   The legislation is based on the landmark telehealth legislation that passed in California and is designed to incentivize more states to expeditiously adopt more favorable telehealth policies.

“We applaud Congresswoman Matsui and Congressman Johnson for advancing the cause of telehealth by introducing this important legislation, said Joel White, executive director for the Health IT Now Coalition, a broad based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers and payers that support deploying health information technology.  “Telehealth is a central component for creating a technology enabled healthcare system that will increase access to care and lower costs.”

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