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Telemedicine Applications, Benefits Highlighted at House Professional Licensure Hearing

September 12, 2018

Several members of Pennsylvania’s hospital community participated in today’s state House Professional Licensure Committee hearing about Senate Bill 780 (Vogel), telemedicine legislation.

At the September 12 state House Professional Licensure Committee hearing to address Senate Bill 780, Judd Hollander, MD, senior vice president, healthcare delivery innovation, Thomas Jefferson University, delivers testimony on behalf of HAP in support of telemedicine legislation.

Senate Bill 780 would define telemedicine, implement key consumer protections, and bring consistency to the insurer payment process. It received unanimous support from the state Senate, and today’s hearing provided an important next step in the legislation’s progress.

Judd Hollander, MD, senior vice president, healthcare delivery innovation, Thomas Jefferson University, delivered testimony on behalf of HAP. His remarks provided an overview of telemedicine, detailed its uses and benefits, and underscored the need for the insurance community to cover services that are delivered by telemedicine in the same way they would cover them if they were provided in person.

Dr. Hollander’s testimony asserted that:

  • Telemedicine is one type of care delivery mechanism that can be utilized for some patients, some of the time, to provide high-quality care
  • Telemedicine positively impacts access, cost, experience, and effectiveness of care
  • Despite complaints about the cost of care, patients in the commonwealth are being deprived of a lower-cost care option
  • There already are many protections in place to ensure appropriate care is provided through telemedicine
  • Care rendered through telemedicine technology should not be held to a higher standard than care rendered through other modalities simply because of the use of technology

Dr. Hollander noted that some telemedicine is being reimbursed by some insurers; however, the inconsistency of payment by insurers is one of the main argument for a telemedicine law. He also reinforced that there are existing protections in place to ensure appropriate care is provided through telemedicine. Providers are governed by state licensing boards, follow a medical code of ethics, and there are strong insurance fraud laws in place.  

In addition to Dr. Hollander, the panel also heard testimony from Guthrie Clinic, Penn Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, UPMC Pinnacle, and Lehigh Valley Health Network; school district representatives, who outlined ways that they are using telemedicine for in-school behavioral health services; and Allegheny Health Network as an example of an integrated health system.

In advance of this hearing, Professional Licensure Committee members have been visiting hospitals across the commonwealth to participate in telemedicine demonstrations. These demonstrations provide an opportunity to see first-hand the ways that telemedicine can help hospitals achieve the triple aim of expanding access to care, improving the quality of care, and lowering costs.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia support telemedicine coverage. While Pennsylvania lags behind in insurance coverage for telemedicine, today’s hearing demonstrated that it is currently being widely and successfully used across Pennsylvania to help patients access the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

HAP will continue to monitor the progress of and advocate for the passage of Senate Bill 780. The House Professional Licensure Committee Hearing will be rebroadcast September 12 at 7 p.m. on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

For more information about Senate Bill 780, please contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Tim Ohrum, HAP’s vice president, grassroots advocacy.

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