Rounds Signs on to VETS Act

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today signed on as an original cosponsor to the bipartisan Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2015 (VETS Act). This bill would allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health professionals to provide telemedicine services across state lines if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties.

“The VA’s telehealth program allows our veterans to receive quality care from the comfort of their home and make fewer trips to the doctor’s office and reduces overall health care costs,” said Rounds. “Our legislation will expand the VA telehealth program by allowing it to cross state lines. This is especially important to large, rural states like South Dakota, whose veterans may live hundreds of miles from the closest VA facility.”

Currently, the VA can only waive state license requirements if both the patient and provider are located in a federally owned facility. However, if the veteran and provider are located in the same state, the VA performs many at-home telehealth care appointments. This requires veterans in rural locations seeking telehealth treatment across state lines to travel to a federal facility, just to use a camera or a phone. This unnecessary barrier to care increases VA costs and needlessly inconveniences veterans who are seeking the care they deserve.

This legislation also makes sure Congress can oversee the VA’s telehealth program by requiring the VA to measure the program’s effectiveness.