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Consumers and Hospitals Help Get Votes to Pass Critical Telemedicine Bill

June 13, 2018

Hospitals and consumers played a key role in getting a telemedicine bill approved that will expand access to health care.

Telehealth—or 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.

The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 780, sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver).

The legislation, which is backed by HAP and the Pennsylvania Medical Society:

  • Defines telemedicine
  • Ensures that consumers get care from qualified practitioners
  • Makes certain that Pennsylvania’s diverse insurance community covers telemedicine consistently

Consumers were able to weigh in on this important issue through HAP’s Healthy Me PA digital community, reaching all 50 Senate offices prior to the vote. Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems also engaged in advocacy with their state senators to ensure a successful outcome.

Hospitals use telemedicine for preventive care and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes. This medical technology is used to assess stroke patients and emergency cases when seconds count, and for specialty care such as telepsychiatry and teledermatology.

Senate Bill 780 ensures that the insurance community treats telemedicine services the same as in-person services. According to the American Telemedicine Association, thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.

HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals thank Senator Vogel for championing the legislation and all Senators for passing the bill. The association urges the House of Representatives to support this version of the bill and send it to the Governor for his signature.

For more information about telemedicine, contact Tim Ohrum, HAP’s vice president, grassroots advocacy. Questions about Senate Bill 780 may be directed to Scott Bishop, HAP”s senior vice president, legislative advocacy.

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