House Approves VETS Act, Expands Access to Telemedicine in VA System

Thompson, Brownley bill provides care for more veterans

WASHINGTON – Today, the House approved a bill that will allow U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health professionals to practice telemedicine across state borders and care for more of America’s veterans.

The bill, H.R. 2123, the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017, introduced by U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) allows VA doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines.

Rep. Thompson, father of a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, said: “I am pleased the House passed this bill today to allow our servicemen and women greater access to care – especially those in rural areas. As our nation celebrates Veterans Day this weekend, it is particularly meaningful and sends a message that we put our veterans first. This bill will ensure that our veterans receive timely health care no matter where they live. I thank Rep. Brownley, Chairman Roe, and Ranking Member Walz for their support of the VETS Act.”

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Brownley said: “The passage of our bill in the House today marks a major step toward our goal of expanding the VA’s ability to provide better, more accessible care to our veterans – including right in their own homes. New technologies provide us with better ways to provide care for veterans and tailor it to their unique needs, and we need to capitalize on that innovation. I thank Congressman Thompson for his leadership on this bipartisan effort, and I look forward to working with our Senate counterparts to get this bill signed into law.”

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D., said: “As chairman and a physician, I know firsthand the value that telemedicine can play in increasing access to quality health care, particularly for veterans in rural areas. I thank Rep. Thompson for his leadership on this important legislation that will allow VA medical providers to practice across state lines.”

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz said: “Ensuring each and every one of our nation’s veterans, no matter where they call home, can access high quality and timely health care is and will always be one of the highest priorities of this committee. The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act is a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation that would make it easier for VA doctors to provide telehealth treatment to veterans across state lines. This bill is just another example of the great work our committee members are doing to improve the lives of veterans and I offer my sincere gratitude to Representatives Brownley and Thompson for their leadership on this bill.”

VETS ACT AT A GLANCE

The bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson and Julia Brownley would do three things:

  • Create a VA state licensure exemption to allow VA-credentialed health care professionals to work across state borders to perform telemedicine without having to obtain a new license in that state.
  • Expand the definition of exempt health care professionals to include VA doctors.
  • Remove the location requirement to allow for care regardless of where the health care professional or patient is located.

The VETS Act is endorsed by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Coalition for Health IT Now, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Association of the United States Navy, American Medical Association, American Telemedicine Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Fleet Reserve Association, Brain Injury Association of America, the Retired Enlisted Association, Lung Cancer Alliance, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, United Spinal Association, and the American College of Radiology.