Congress approves telehealth access for TRICARE recipients
Under the newly authorized regulation, military beneficiaries will be able to avoid high-cost deductibles and co-payments when accessing health care consultations via telecommunications — gaining the same benefits that apply to in-person office visits.
The AAFP had previously announced its support of the law so long as it upheld state licensing requirements. At first, the U.S. Senate placed certain restrictions on the bill, but in its final version, language was clarified to include services at the patient’s location rather than the practitioner’s.
AAFP’s board chair at the time — Dr. Robert Wergin of Nebraska — emphasized in a letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees that “If enacted, this language will supplant longstanding state rules providing that when provider and patient are in different jurisdictions, the law of the place of the patient governs."
The Academy’s message endeavored to uphold existing state laws that recognize the patient’s location as primary. Wergin expressed concern that if not properly calibrated, interstate telemedicine could be chaotic. Once satisfied that the measure would benefit TRICARE’s 8 million subscribers, AAFP subsequently endorsed the action.
AAFP added that the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, an agreement practiced among 17 states, also serves as a model for modernizing health care laws regarding interstate care scenarios.