Thompson Introduces Servicemembers’ Telemedicine & E-Health Portability (STEP) Act

Washington, D.C. – Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today introduced H.R. 1832, the Servicemembers’ Telemedicine & E-Health Portability (STEP) Act. The STEP Act will expand the current Department of Defense (DOD) state licensure exemption to allow credentialed health care professionals to work across state borders without having to obtain a new state license.

“Members of our military should receive 21st century care and access to treatment regardless of the circumstances and Congress needs to make good on that commitment,” said Thompson. “This legislation removes out-dated requirements under current law so that geographic location is no longer an obstacle to the delivery of care for our Servicemembers.”

Currently, the Department of Defense has limited ability to allow its health care professionals to provide care when the patient is in a different state. As a result, many who rely on military care are required to travel long distances to receive treatment, presenting increased financial burdens and unnecessary obstacles in access to services. By removing this state licensure burden, the legislation empowers the qualified DOD professionals to use cutting edge telemedicine and e-health applications to treat Servicemembers regardless of their physical proximity.

“After months of meetings with men and women in the Armed Forces, military retirees, and DOD officials, it is clear that the STEP Act will benefit our care providers and Servicemembers by allowing more specialists to offer services to a wider base of patients,” said Thompson. “The STEP Act reaffirms the commitment we’ve made to our brave men and women, especially to our Guard, Reserve, and those in rural America, who have served our country, but have limited access to care.”

The DOD’s hands are tied when it comes to credentialed civilian employees and contractors who have stepped up to fill shortages in desperately needed positions, especially in the area of behavioral health treatment.  The STEP Act will expand the definition of “health care professional” under the previous exemption to include qualified DOD civilian employees and personal services contractors. The bill requires a report within 90 days of enactment on DOD and Veteran Administration plans to develop and expand programs to use new Internet and communication technologies for improved access to telemedicine and electronic health programs.

Thompson has pushed to ensure that those who serve or have served our country in uniform receive the best possible treatment and access to care they deserve.  The STEP Act has been introduced in advance of Thompson’s Veterans Outreach Week initiative, a series of events to offer local area Veterans contact with and support from federal agencies through a chain of informational seminars with representatives from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Small Business Administration.