WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new federal rule that will allow VA doctors, nurses and other health-care providers to administer care to Veterans using telehealth, or virtual technology, regardless of where in the United States the provider or Veteran is located, including when care will occur across state lines or outside a VA facility.
Previously, it was unclear whether VA providers could furnish care to Veterans in other states through telehealth because of licensing restrictions or state-specific telehealth laws.
This new rule exercises federal preemption to override those state restrictions, paving the way for VA to expand care to Veterans using telehealth. VA worked closely with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice for implementation of the new rule.
“This new rule is critical to VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ initiative,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA’s telehealth services.”
By enabling Veterans nationwide to receive care at home, the rule will especially benefit Veterans living in rural areas who would otherwise need to travel a considerable distance or across state lines to receive care.
The rule also will expand Veterans’ access to critical care that can be provided virtually — such as mental health care and suicide prevention — by allowing quicker and easier access to VA mental health providers through telehealth.
VA first announced the proposed rule, titled “Authority of Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth,” at a White House event last August, during which VA and President Donald Trump launched the “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative.
In the announcement, VA also unveiled VA Video Connect, a video conferencing app for Veterans and VA providers. Through this new rule, VA providers will be able to use VA Video Connect and other forms of telehealth to furnish care to Veterans anywhere in the country, including in the Veteran’s home.
To learn more about VA’s telehealth “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative, visit VA’s Office of Connected Care at connectedcare.va.gov.
Contributed article & Photo Courtesy of LSU Health.