Veterans Affairs (VA) on Friday published a final rule that will allow VA health care providers to offer services via telehealth across state lines.
Currently, VA patients can receive care via telehealth only if they are located in the same state in which the telehealth provider is licensed to practice, or, in some instances, if both the patient and doctor are located at a federally owned facility.
Final rule details
The final rule implements the so-called "Anywhere to Anywhere" initiative President Trump and former VA Secretary David Shulkin announced last year. Under the initiative, VA will make an app called VA Video Connect—a telehealth program VA has tested with more than 300 health care providers at 76 VA hospitals and has been used by more than 20,000 veterans—available to veterans throughout the country.
VA issued the final rule after Congress passed several bills to give the department the authority to implement the initiative. The final rule "clarifies that VA health care providers may exercise their authority to provide health care through the use of telehealth, notwithstanding any state laws, rules, licensure, registration, or certification requirements to the contrary," meaning VA providers will be able to provide telehealth services across state lines even in states that prohibit the practice.
According to Healthcare IT News, the rule is scheduled to take effect June 11. More than 4,000 VA health care providers throughout the country currently are set up to use VA Video Connect, Health Data Management reports. VA recently made the app available through the Apple App Store.
The rule does not apply to private physicians who provide care through VA's Veterans Choice Program, mHealthIntelligence reports.
Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement said, "This new rule is critical to VA's 'Anywhere to Anywhere' initiative," adding, "Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA's telehealth services."
VA in a statement said, "Through this new rule, VA providers will be able to use VA Video Connect and other forms of telehealth to furnish care to veterans anywhere in the country, including in the veteran's home" (Davis, Healthcare IT News, 5/11; Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/14; Wicklund, mHealthIntelligence, 5/11).
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