Telemedicine Debate To Be Revisited In Upcoming Legislative Session

Nov 21, 2014

A presentation on telemedicine during the legislature's 2014 session.
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

Florida lawmakers appear ready to re-ignite talks on the future of telemedicine after it was extinguished. The issue of how to handle doctors who treat patients remotely was jumbled into a larger health-related bill, which contributed to its defeat last session.

Florida TaxWatch’s Tamara Demko says lawmakers need to pare down their goals for addressing telemedicine in the state.

“So, limiting the scope of legislation to things that are realistic and palatable will help avoid the same fate this legislative session," she says, referring to the telemedicine bill's defeat earlier this year.

Demko says this time around, the legislature should focus the telemedicine conversation on places where there is already consensus. Right now that’s the state’s Medicaid program, which allows telemedicine. But doctors only get paid under tight circumstances. TaxWatch says the state should consider allowing Medicaid doctors to see patients over video in their houses.

“There are certain limitations for Medicaid reimbursement now that are very limited locations. By expanding those locations, it may be that we would be able to provide services to more people in more remote places," she says.