Video: Thompson Discusses Importance of STEP Act Becoming Law with WICU News

Washington, D.C. – On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included the Servicemembers’ Telemedicine and E-Health Portability (STEP) Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson.  Representative Thompson recently spoke with WICU TV News Anchor Kevin MacDowell, to discuss his motivation for drafting the legislation, subsequent efforts to secure its inclusion in the final NDAA agreement, and the benefits it will provide to millions of Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired service members, and their families. 

Video Transcript:

WICU’s Kevin MacDowell:  “You were involved in a measure recently signed into law by the President called the STEP Act concerning healthcare for service members.” 

Representative Thompson:  “The STEP Act is the Servicemembers Telemedicine and E-Health Portability Act.  Really, what it does is it transforms healthcare and expands access to care for our Active Duty Military, Veterans, Reservists and the National Guard. It’s an act that allows the Department of Defense to overcome some bureaucratic barriers to use more private individuals and entities to be able to provide telemedicine, which is a great way to provide cost effective care to our service members.” 

WICU’s Kevin MacDowell:  “Telemedicine, what do you mean by that?”

Representative Thompson:  “Well, telemedicine is the use of 21st century technology…during the day, our war fighters are out fighting the bad guys.  In the evening, they may be on the computer or on Skype, for example, doing a parent-teacher conference.  They are very familiar and very well connected with that technology.  This same technology can be used very successfully to connect them with healthcare, parts of assessment, follow-ups, some screenings…and in behavior health in terms of reaching out to receive support services they may need to have in order to deal with some of things that they may have dealt with when they were deployed.”

  • Politico, “Defense bill adds mental health options”: “A little-noticed provision in a defense bill should give the military flexibility to provide more mental health and other medical services by telephone, its sponsor says. The Servicemembers Telemedicine and E-Health Portability Act was included in the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act, which may get final House approval Wednesday and then go to the Senate later this week.  It will allow credentialed military health providers and civilian contractors to offer telemedicine services, regardless of the patient's location. Under current law the health care provider must be licensed in the state where the patient is treated. That restriction prevented the military health system from reaching as many people as it could, said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), who sponsored the bill to address the unnerving rise in suicide rates among service members…” (Politico – 12/13/2011) 
  • Thompson.gov, Comments from General Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, on passage of the STEP Act:  "I am very appreciative of the strong support of Congress on this issue, and particularly the efforts of Representative Glenn Thompson and his staff,” said General Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “This legislation is important in that it will enhance Service member and Veteran access to behavioral health care at a time when the Nation and our military services are faced with a significant shortage of behavioral health care providers, especially in remote, rural areas. This legislation is a positive step in mitigating that problem and will be particularly helpful in reaching our Guard and Reserve Soldiers in areas with limited resources and support services."

To view additional information the STEP Act, click here

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