Thompson Aims to Increase Veteran Health Care Access Through New Telemedicine Legislation

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Representatives Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA) and Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) have introduced H.R. 2001, the Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2013, or VETS Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing veterans' access to care and expanding the use of telemedicine at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

The VETS Acts allows credentialed VA health professionals to practice telemedicine across state borders. The bill removes licensure requirements mandating that health care professionals be licensed in every state where the care is received, thereby expanding the number of qualified health professionals able to treat the veteran population. 

“We must make every effort to find new and innovative ways to help our veterans achieve physical health and mental wellbeing," stated Rep. Thompson. "The VETS Act will increase the number of qualified professionals who are able to service the needs of these brave men and women."

Under the VETS Act, veterans seeking treatment or services will no longer be required to travel to a VA facility. Rather, veterans will have the option of accessing services, including telemedicine, over the phone or online and regardless of their physical location.

"The stigma of seeking treatment at a mental health facility is a major barrier for many of our veterans in deciding to seek professional help," Rep. Thompson added. "By expanding the use of telemedicine, the VETS Act seeks to remove this barrier, so that our veterans can access the care they need without having to leave the comfort of their own homes."   

The VETS Act is modeled after Thompson’s Servicemember Telemedicine and E-Health Portability (STEP) Act, which became law in December of 2011. The DoD began implementation of the STEP Act in 2012. Since that time, the Army has performed nearly 36,000 teleconsultations.

Thompson and Rangel introduced the VETS Act along with 21 original cosponsors. This bipartisan, no-cost legislation was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for consideration.