NJ telemedicine bill delayed by veterinary concerns

New Jersey veterinarians are speaking out against a bill that would allow all healthcare practitioners to establish a "bona fide relationship" with their patients via telemedicine, reports the Veterinary Information Network.

The bill (SB 291), which is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie's, R-N.J., signature, would allow healthcare providers — including veterinarians — to establish a physician-patient relationship remotely through telemedicine. It would also ensure telemedicine meets the same standards of care as in-person visits and require state Medicaid, private payers and some other health plans to cover the remote services.

Leaders in veterinary medicine have taken issue with how the legislation broadly defines healthcare providers. They say the legislation is dangerous and irresponsible because animals cannot verbally communicate about their health, which makes a physician exams especially important, VIN reports.

"They never thought of veterinarians when they wrote this bill," Rick Alampi, executive director of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, told VIN. He added the bill "references in multiple places that the patient must request things, like waivers."

Veterinarian groups, including the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, are requesting Mr. Christie use a conditional veto to change the bill, exempting veterinary medicine. Many state veterinary leaders met with Mr. Christie's staff to discuss the potential change Wednesday.

If Mr. Christie issues a conditional veto, the legislature could accept the changes, attempt to override the veto or let the act die.

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