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PA Telemedicine Law Fails to Advance During Last Session Day

October 18, 2018

Despite earning unanimous approval from the full state Senate and the state House Professional Licensure Committee—as well as support from health care advocates across the commonwealth—Senate Bill 780, sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), was not able to clear its final legislative hurdle today, the end of the 2017–2018 legislative session.

Senate Bill 780 would have supported access to telemedicine services for all Pennsylvanians. In addition to being used for stroke care, burn care, dermatology, and psychiatry, telemedicine plays a critical role during emergencies and can improve school safety through in-school behavioral health screenings. The legislation defined the key components of telemedicine, set licensing requirements, and required health insurance to provide payment for telehealth services if they pay for the same service in person.

For months, HAP, Pennsylvania Medical Society, AARP-PA, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and more than a dozen health care organizations, have urged lawmakers to approve Senate Bill 780 and send it to the Governor for his signature, including:

  • Philly.com blog and a HAP blog that outlined how the bill would improve care in Pennsylvania, including telemental health and school safety
  • Testimony from the hospital and school board community highlighted the applications and benefits of telemedicine during a public hearing
  • Joint letter to members of the House of Representatives calling for passage of the bill
  • Joint op-eds with AARP-PA published in the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Democrat that outlined how the bill would improve access to care
  • Statewide advocacy campaigns to encourage hospital staff and leadership, as well as consumers, to voice their support
  • Providing education on Healthy Me PA channels about the benefits of telemedicine

In a statement issued today, Andy Carter, president and CEO of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said, “HAP and the Pennsylvania hospital community will continue to support legislation that defines telemedicine, puts in place key consumer protections to ensure that care is delivered by licensed clinicians, and expands insurance coverage for telemedicine services; and we look forward to working with lawmakers to revisit this proposal during the next legislative session.”

For more information about the bill, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy. For more information about HAP’s telemedicine advocacy campaign, contact Tim Ohrum, vice president, grassroots advocacy.

 

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