A new bill introduced in the Virginia Senate takes a novel approach to expand Virginian’s ability to access healthcare through telemedicine. The bill was pre-filed for the 2019 legislative session by State Senator Barbara Favola and has been initially referred to the Committee on Education and Health for further discussion. You can review the text of Senate Bill 1124 (SB 1124) in full here.
If passed, SB 1124 would allow physicians who are licensed and in good standing in neighboring states to use telemedicine to furnish healthcare services to patients in Virginia. This includes any jurisdiction that shares a boarder with Virginia. This would create an unusual situation as the national trend with telemedicine has been for states to consider the practice of medicine to occur wherever the patient is located. The effect in those states is that even when using telemedicine, a physician would still need to be licensed by the state where the patient is located. While those states clearly believe this is the best way to protect patients, it greatly limits the possibilities offered by this new technology. Not only would SB 1124 allow physicians from neighboring states to see their current patients who might be temporarily in Virginia, but they could also gain new patients from Virginia. This is because Virginia’s current telemedicine laws allow for the patient-practitioner relationship to be formed remotely through telemedicine without needing to ever meet face-to-face.
We will be monitoring SB 1124 as it works its way through Virginia’s legislative process this year. If you would like to contact Senator Barbara Favola, the SB 1124’s sponsor, she can be reached via her Senate webpage.