Friday, June 23, 2017

A Dramatic Breakthrough For NJ Health Care Ahead?

Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) to legalize telemedicine in New Jersey has passed the State Senate.
Sen. Diane Allen’s bill would authorize healthcare providers who are licensed by the state to engage in telemedicine. New Jersey is one of the last states in the USA without regulations addressing telemedicine. (Flickr)
“Bringing telemedicine to New jersey will do a world of good for our residents, particularly for those who are homebound, or have a chronic condition that requires regular maintenance,” Senator Allen (R-Burlington) said. “We have not been immune to the nationwide doctor shortage. Expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare is the right thing to do, especially in these uncertain times. This bill could bring the cost down for millions of new patients.”

Senator Allen’s bill, S-291, would authorize healthcare providers who are licensed by the state to engage in telemedicine. Telemedicine is legal in 29 states and has been widely used nationwide for more than 40 years, but New Jersey is now one of the last states in the country without regulations addressing telemedicine.

Physicians use telemedicine to treat patients via video conferencing, transmission of images and medical records, call centers, patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, and mental health screenings.

Under the bill, telemedicine providers must meet with people electronically face to face or use “store and forward” technology to allow patients to electronically send images, diagnostics, data and medical records. A combination of audio, store forward and live, interactive video must be used unless, after a thorough review of patient records, the provider concludes that a patient’s needs can be met with audio and store- forward alone.

S-291 would require health insurance companies to provide coverage and payment for services provided through telemedicine at least at the same rate as services provided in-person. Providers would not be able to issue prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances until an in-person exam has been conducted. The State licensing board would be responsible for adopting rules and regulations for telemedicine. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately.

“Many families in New Jersey have to travel miles to see a doctor. Taking off work for one appointment can be devastating for people who are already struggling to get by,” Senator Allen said. “No one should have to choose between seeing a doctor and paying the bills. Offering telemedicine to our residents will make New Jersey a healthier, safer place to live.”

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