Example of How Proposed Legislation Would Affect Telemedicine

June 2, 2012
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A couple of weeks ago, I relayed concern from Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, about proposed legislation relating to prescription medications before Congress that would cause problems for telemedicine programs.

A couple of weeks ago, I relayed concern from Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, about proposed legislation relating to prescription medications before Congress that would cause problems for telemedicine programs.

Some might have thought that Jonathan was using a “straw man” argument, but Scott Mace, writing for HealthLeaders Media today, notes that a telemedicine program at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina would be impacted.  His article, titled “Pill Mill Crackdown Endangers Telepsych Program” points out that two bills are written in such a way as “to make illegal the telepysch consults in North Carolina” because the psychiatrist would not be meeting “face-to-face” with the patients.

This is an example of what is wrong with lawmakers who see a problem and tell their staff to write “fix-it” legislation that doesn’t consider unintended consequences (Sure, there’s always the possibility the elected official may have written the bill, but most don’t.).  Hospital administrators have written to Senator Kay Hagen (D-NC), a sponsor of the bill, to point out the impact on their telepsych program in her home state!  Anyone else see the irony in that?  So far, no response from Senator Hagen.

One would hope that common sense prevails here.  Senator Kagen should immediately offer an amendment to correct what would be an injustice to her constituents who live in a medically underserved area.