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Sen. Diane Allen Bill Legalizing Telemedicine in New Jersey Passes Committee

Trenton Capital Dome  MoonTrenton, NJ, September 27, 2016 — Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) authorizing the use of telemedicine in New Jersey has been advanced by the Senate Health Committee.

“Telemedicine is especially vital for patients who suffer from chronic illness, seniors who are homebound, and families who live in rural areas where they would have to travel very far to receive medical care,” Senator Allen said.

“No one should have to choose between paying for groceries and traveling to see a doctor,” Senator Allen continued.  “By legalizing telemedicine, we can bring the cost of healthcare down and expand access to a variety of health services for millions of new patients.”

Senator Allen’s bill, S-291, would authorize healthcare providers who are licensed by the state to engage in telemedicine. Telemedicine is legal in 29 states and has been widely used nationwide for more than 40 years.

Physicians use telemedicine to treat patients via video conferencing, transmission of images and medical records, call centers, patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, and mental health screenings.

Under the bill, telemedicine providers must meet with people electronically face to face or use “store and forward” technology to allow patients to electronically send images, diagnostics, data and medical records.

A combination of audio, store forward and live, interactive video must be used unless, after a thorough review of patient records, the provider concludes that a patient’s needs can be met with audio and store- forward alone.

“Studies have shown that using telemedicine can lead to greater outcomes and patient satisfaction than in-person visits, specifically when it comes to mental healthcare and chronic illness maintenance,” Senator Allen added.

According to Sen. Allen, “New Jersey hospitals and physicians offer some of the highest quality health services in the country, but an in-person visit shouldn’t be the only option available.  Nearly 30 states have legalized telemedicine. It’s time to meet patient demands and bring New Jersey into the 21st century of healthcare.”

S-291 would require health insurance companies to provide coverage and payment for services provided through telemedicine at least at the same rate as services provided in-person.

Providers would not be able to issue prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances until an in-person exam has been conducted.

The State licensing board would be responsible for adopting rules and regulations for telemedicine. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately.