Despite being ahead of the curve on telemedicine, the Department of Veterans Affairs is finding its progress hindered by licensing laws in some states. The “problem” is that sometimes virtual visits take place between a provider who is on federal government property and a patient who isn’t; this is especially dicey if the provider isn’t licensed in the state the patient is in. The VA says federal legislation would clear the path for providers to deliver care to veterans in any location—one of the hallmark benefits of telemedicine in the first place. Specifically, the VA wants Congress to stipulate that VA clinicians do not need to be licensed in the same state where they are practicing. This would be especially significant in smaller, underserved rural areas. Unanswered is the question of how urgent care can get into the conversation—for example, why couldn’t a clinic facilitate the virtual visit between the patient and the VA doc? The VA already says more accommodating rules would allow the agency to partner with more medical providers. Urgent care seems ripe for such an opportunity.
VA Telemedicine Plans Are at Odds with Some Licensing Laws