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Carter Introduces Bill to Improve and Increase Access to Telemedicine for Veterans

Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-Ga.) introduced legislation today to improve and increase access to telemedicine for veterans.

The VA Mission Act, signed into law in June 2018, reformed a wide range of veteran health care issues, but the telemedicine portion of the law includes an error that prohibits trainees from using the telemedicine system. These trainees are typically interns, residents, fellows, or graduate students who are working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to gain necessary experience to become doctors and/or work full-time with the VA. Without this necessary experience, these individuals will not be getting important training in this area and may use the system for the first-time only when they become a licensed doctor, creating a delay in training and the potential for more mistakes.

Carter's legislation, the VA Mission Telemedicine Clarification Act, ensures trainees who are satisfying professional training program requirements are able to use the telemedicine system. These trainees will be required to be supervised by an appropriately credentialed VA staff member. 

"During a meeting with the VA Hospital in Charleston, I learned about this problem with the VA Mission Act," said Carter. "The telemedicine section of the bill was designed to allow VA covered practitioners to provide telehealth services across state lines to increase veteran access to VA services. However, unfortunately, the legislation missed a large population of health care providers. This meant that only doctors could provide services through telehealth, not students, interns, residents or fellows. This is a major problem especially for interns, residents and fellows who have graduated medical school and are training to become full time doctors because they are not able to get the necessary experience in telehealth at the VA until the time they become fully licensed. 

"I introduced this legislation today to improve telehealth training at VA health centers and increase access to this important care by increasing the number of providers. Our veterans served our nation and deserve access to the best possible care when they return home. Increasing the use of telehealth at VA health centers is critical to ensure veterans are able to receive the care they need no matter where they live."