Join the Debate: Telemedicine for Vets?
On October 2, the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a rule change that could impact the lives of thousands of veterans living in rural America. The VA has proposed that doctors be able to practice telemedicine, even if that doctor is not licensed in the state where the veteran is living. Since the VA is a federal agency, this proposal is going through the federal rulemaking process. That means that you can add your comments to the Federal Register and join the debate.
Strong Arguments on Both Sides
This rule change would only apply to doctors who are employees of the VA, and wouldn’t open up telemedicine across state lines for other doctors or patients, but there are still strong arguments both for and against this proposed change.
- Many veterans live in rural communities and can’t easily access their VA doctors, especially for mental health. Over 300,000 veterans in rural communities have already used telehealth services.
- Doctors would be employed by the VA and would still maintain appropriate training and certifications.
- The proposal would override state laws requiring doctors to be licensed in the state where they are practicing (defined as where the patient is). This means that many state licensing boards would lose the ability to oversee the quality of care being provided through VA telemedicine.
- American Medical Association Statement on VA Telehealth Proposed Rule
- American Academy of Family Physicians letter regarding telehealth across state lines
- NHIT Week 2017: Technology Improves Care Options for Veterans
- Statement of Kevin Galpin, MD. Executive Director, Telehealth Services Veterans Health Administration
Submit your comments
The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting comments on this proposed rule until November 1, 2017.
Make a strong comment:
- Read and understand the proposal.
- Feel free to reach out to the VA with questions.
- The strongest comments are from the people that will be directly impacted by the rule change, such as veterans who will use telemedicine and their caregivers.
- Support your claims. You can add links to studies or upload documents with your comment. Remember comments are PUBLIC – so don’t upload documents with your personal information!!
- The comment process is not a vote – one well-supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters.
Rhiannon Woo is a training professional in the area of food safety and conservation co-management and serves as Committee Chair for Education and Training for TWW USA.