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Senate Health Panel Tries Again on Telemedicine

Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean
Florida Senate
Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean
Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean
Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean

Pointing to a need to increase access to health care in areas such as rural communities, a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders Tuesday expressed confidence they will reach agreement this year on a plan to boost the use of telemedicine in Florida.

Sometimes called "telehealth," telemedicine involves using the Internet and other technology to provide care to patients remotely.

As a basic example, a physician could use a video link to consult with a patient who is at home.

While some providers such as hospitals have started moving forward with telemedicine, Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean said lawmakers need to put guidelines in state law.

For instance, Bean said such a law would allow Florida's Medicaid system to pay for care through telemedicine, something it cannot do now.

“In order for you to get paid to see a Medicaid patient, you have got to see them live, you’ve got to see them in person, you’ve got to document it," Bean said. "What we are going to do with our telemedicine bill will open that up, so if you see them virtually, through telemedicine, we’ll recognize that as a visit.”

Lawmakers during the past few years have filed telemedicine bills, but the House and Senate have not been able to reach agreement.

But during the news conference Tuesday, leaders said they expect to work out differences on regulatory issues that have led to past disagreements.

One of the key regulatory issues in the past has been about whether out-of-state physicians should be allowed to provide telemedicine to patients in Florida.

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Tom Urban of News Service of Florida
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