HAP Resource Center

Lawmaker Letter: Joint Letter, PA House of Representatives, Telemedicine SB 780

September 25, 2018

Dear Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives:

Senate Bill 780 defines the role of telemedicine in ensuring Pennsylvanians receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time. The House Professional Licensure Committee unanimously approved the bill.

The undersigned organizations urge you to vote yes on Senate Bill 780 for the following reasons. The bill:

  • Defines telemedicine
  • Protects patients by outlining who can provide health care services through telemedicine
  • Requires health insurers to provide reimbursement for telemedicine services if they pay for the same service through an in-person encounter
  • Brings consistency to the reimbursement process, while avoiding government interference in rate-setting for health care services

Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information from one site to another via electronic communications in order to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Two-way video, smartphones, wireless tools, and other forms of telecommunications technology can be used to deliver high-quality health care through telemedicine.

Telemedicine provides better access to quality, convenient health care, in a more efficient, and less costly way in rural, suburban, and urban communities. For example, a patient in a rural area suffering a stroke may be able to survive the traumatic event with greater quality of life and spend significantly less on health care costs for rehabilitation and other services; or a child needing to see a dermatologist may be able to be seen for a non-life threatening dermatology issue, such as a rash, without having to leave his or her school, reducing time away from class.

Telemedicine also can:

  • Eliminate long waits for in-person appointments
  • Accommodate those who would normally travel far to see a specialist
  • Save lives when seconds matter
  • Help address school safety through in-school behavioral health services
  • Improve access to both health care and home and community-based services, and increase choice of providers, especially in rural areas
  • Increase access to counseling and treatment for opioid use disorders
  • Increase flexibility for family caregivers who provide unpaid care to a friend or loved one who could benefit from broader access to telemedicine
  • Assist insurers in keeping pace with the technological advances in health care
  • Address physician and specialist shortages

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have already enacted this type of policy, including Pennsylvania’s neighbors Delaware, Maryland, and New York. Senate Bill 780, introduced by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), passed the Senate 49-0 on June 13, 2018.

On behalf of the organizations listed below please vote yes when Senate Bill 780 is considered by the House.

 Respectfully,

AARP
American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter
Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania
Health Federation of Philadelphia
LeadingAge PA
National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter
Pennsylvania Affiliate of American College of Nurse-Midwives
Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health
Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners
Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians
Pennsylvania Dental Association Pennsylvania Homecare Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Pennsylvania Rural Health Association
Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society
Pennsylvania Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants
Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

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Topics: Access to Care, Telehealth

Revision Date: 9/25/2018

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