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Important Telehealth Licensing Precedent is Set by the DOD

Telehealth LicensingNew “National Defensive Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 Conference Report” (House Report 112-329) changes language concerning location of services to state “any location” rather than only in specified states where the practitioner is licensed.

Please note, this is only for professionals treating specified recipients, as defined in section (a) (2) below and not the general public. (Relevant sections are also highlighted in color below for your convenience.)

Again, this is not for practitioners who are licensed and want to practice over state lines, but are not offering services within the scope of “federal duties.” Current state law for licensed professionals who don’t serve military personnel or veterans are in the process of being challenged, but have not yet been changed.  (See other posts listed below for basic conceptual discussion and recent updates about progress with licensure below.) However, the recent DoD law is a noteworthy precedent that foreshadows other sea changes coming with regard to licensure and the use of technology to treat people in need, wherever they may be.

These words are excerpted from the lengthy document cited above:

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 201 CONFERENCE REPORT (House Report 112-329) to accompany
H.R. 1540
SEC. 713. EXPANSION OF STATE LICENSURE EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS.PROFESSIONALS.
(a) Expansion- Section 1094(d) of title 10, United States Code, is amended– (1) in paragraph (1)– (A) by inserting `at any location’ before `in any State’; and (B) by striking `regardless’ and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `regardless of where such health-care professional or the patient are located, so long as the practice is within the scope of the authorized Federal duties.’; and (2) in paragraph (2), by striking `member of the armed forces’ and inserting `member of the armed forces, civilian employee of the Department of Defense, personal services contractor under section 1091 of this title, or other health-care professional credentialed and privileged at a Federal health care institution or location specially designated by the Secretary for this purpose’. (b) Regulations- The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe regulations to carry out the amendments made by this section.
Expansion of State licensure exception for certain health care professionals (sec. 713)
The House bill contained a provision (sec. 713) that would express the sense of Congress concerning access to behavioral health care and the need for improved collaboration between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs on transition of service member medical records. The provision would also amend section 1094(d), title 10, United States Code, to permit Department of Defense civilian employees and other health care professionals credentialed and privileged at a federal health care institution or location designated by the Secretary of Defense to practice at any location, regardless of where the health care professional or the patient are located, so long as the practice is within the scope of the authorized federal duties. The provision would also require reports on plans to develop and expand programs utilizing Internet and communications technologies to improve access to care, and plans to improve the transition of health and battlefield deployment records from the Department to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 721), which would limit additional State licensure exceptions to duties relating to mental health care.

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