As Pennsylvania continues to cope with the impact of COVID-19, the Senate today (April 21) gave final approval to a bill introduced by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) that promotes telemedicine as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.
Senate Bill 857, which now goes to the Governor for enactment into law, specifically defines telemedicine as “the delivery of health care services provided through telecommunications technology to a patient by a healthcare practitioner who is at a different location.” It also establishes guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services, and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services.
“No one was even remotely aware of COVID-19 and the impact that it could have on our society when I introduced this bill. But, if we take nothing else away from this pandemic, we now fully understand the critical need for this tool,” Senator Vogel said. “This bill is about building the infrastructure for telemedicine. It about establishing who gets paid for what and how to affordably increase the access to healthcare.”
While Senate Bill 857 makes substantial changes in the health care industry, physicians and other health practitioners delivering telemedicine services would still be required to follow standard state licensure and medical practice laws and requirements in Pennsylvania.
“COVID-19 changed the landscape for medicine in Pennsylvania. Many routine in office services are not available for patients. Telemedicine can vastly improve the availability of healthcare options for people in rural or urban areas,” Senator Vogel said. “In this time, when a statewide stay at home order is in place, telemedicine is vital for patients who suffer from chronic illness and families who live in rural areas where they would have to travel very far to receive medical care. We need to make this option available for all Pennsylvanians.”
Audio of Senator Vogel’s comments on his bill prior to its final passage by the Senate on Tuesday.
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