HAP Resource Center

Joint Advocacy Letter, Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Support for Senate Bill 857 Telehealth

October 28, 2019

Dear Members of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee:

On behalf of the undersigned organization this letter is to express strong support for Senate Bill 857 P.N. 1170 (Vogel, R-Beaver), and to ask you to vote “yes” on the bill and no to harmful insurer language aimed at keeping the status quo. This legislation creates meaningful change for patients and providers while still allowing for rates to be negotiated between payor and provider.

From life-saving specialty care to everyday physician visits, telemedicine helps ensure that Pennsylvania physicians and hospitals are able to provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time. Some examples include:

  • Telestroke: When it comes to a stroke, seconds count. Each minute care is delayed, a stroke victim can lose 1.9 million brain cells. Employing telehealth with stroke victims means patients receive faster care, increasing survival rates and improving quality of life
  • Primary care: Telemedicine can reduce costs, improve health outcomes, increase access to primary and specialty care, and enable preventive care and chronic condition monitoring and management
  • Teledermatology: Patients often have to wait months to schedule in-person dermatology appointments in Pennsylvania. With teledermatology, a patient can take a photograph of the skin issue, send it to the specialist, and receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan within minutes—offering patients an opportunity to obtain less expensive and faster diagnoses
  • Telepsychiatry: Evidence indicates that telepsychiatry yields outstanding clinical ratings for treating substance use disorder— particularly important during the current opioid crisis—as well as many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis

Additionally, research indicates that widespread telemedicine adoption could save the health care industry as much as $6 billion annually.

Senate Bill 857 defines key aspects of telemedicine, protects patients by outlining who can deliver health care services through telemedicine, and requires insurers to reimburse health care practitioners who provide care through telemedicine if they reimburse those same health care practitioners for providing the same care in person. With regard to these reimbursements, the legislation does not mandate specific rates. That is left to negotiation between insurers and providers. Please vote “yes” on SB 857.


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



Topics: State Advocacy, Telehealth

Revision Date: 10/28/2019

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