Wednesday, May 18, 2011

STEP Act Introduced

Representative Glen “GT” Thompson on May 11th introduced the “Service Members Telemedicine & E-Health Portability Act” (STEP) (H.R. 1832). The Act would expand DOD’s state licensure exemption to allow credentialed healthcare professionals to work across state lines without the need to obtain new state licenses.

Currently, DOD has limited ability to allow its healthcare professionals to provide care when the patient is in a different state. By removing this state licensure burden, the legislation empowers qualified DOD professionals to use cutting-edge telemedicine and e-health applications to treat service members regardless of their physical location.

The problem is that DOD’s hands are tied when it comes to credentialed civilian employees and contractors who step in to fill shortages in desperately needed positions, especially in the area of behavioral health treatment. The STEP Act will expand the definition of healthcare professional under the previous exemption to include qualified DOD civilian employees and personal services contractors.

The Act requires a report within 90 days on DOD and Veteran Administration plans to develop and expand programs that will use new internet and communication technologies to provide improved access to telemedicine and electronic health programs.