The age of virtual care: 200+ telemedicine laws introduced in 2015

The National Conference of State Legislatures released a new report on telemedicine.

Here are five key points to know from the "Telehealth Policy Trends and Considerations" report.

1. The report estimates telemedicine utilization will grow from 250,000 patients in 2013 to 3.2 million patients in 2018.

2. As utilization grows, so does regulation. This year alone, more than 200 telehealth bills were introduced in 42 states.

3. Though new legislation may be springing up across the country, 49 states and Washington, D.C., already have some coverage for telemedicine services.

4. While nearly all states offer coverage for live-video telemedicine, there is wide variation in reimbursement policy. For example, just nine states reimburse for store and forward services.

5. Two pieces of introduced federal legislation would affect telemedicine. The TELE-MED Act (SB 1778 and HB 3081) would allow some Medicare providers to offer telemedicine services across state lines, according to the report. The Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2015 would "allow a health care professional authorized to provide care through the Department of Veterans Affairs and licensed in any state to provide services via telehealth, regardless of where the provider or patient is located," according to the report.

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