Congress is reviewing legislation designed to permit telemedicine providers to treat Medicare patients across state lines without the need for separate state licensure. The Telemedicine for Medicare Act of 2015 (S. 1778 and H.R. 3081), known as the TELE-MED Act of 2015, is sponsored by Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), 15 Republicans and 9 Democrats in the House, and sponsored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) in the Senate.
There are minor differences in the wording of the Bills in the House and the Senate, the key language is identical, stating:
In the case of a Medicare participating physician or practitioner who is licensed or otherwise legally authorized to provide a health care service in a State, such physician or practitioner may provide such a service as a telemedicine service to a Medicare beneficiary who is in a different State, and any requirement that such physician or practitioner obtain a comparable license or other comparable legal authorization from such different State with respect to the provision of such health care service by such physician or practitioner to such beneficiary shall not apply.
The Act is intended to reduce barriers to inter-state care, bringing more options to underserved areas and allowing providers to expand their reach. And it would, in the context of Medicare coverage qualifications for providers. But keep in mind, the TELE-MED Act proposes a change to Medicare coverage and reimbursement rules; it is not a federally-imposed change to eliminating state laws requiring a physician to be licensed in those various states. It is unclear how the TELE-MED Act will be interpreted in connection with states’ rights under the 10th Amendment. Even if Medicare does not require state licensure for payment purposes, the TELE-MED Act may not necessarily immunize a physician from unlicensed practice of medicine under state laws.
That said, the TELE-MED Act is another in a series of recent legislative efforts, both federal and state, designed to reduce barriers to care via telehealth. The TELE-MED Act is supported by at least 21 national associations and businesses, including the National Council for Behavioral Health and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney.
This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary.
The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites.
In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.