U.S. Representative Glenn "GT' Thompson recently spoke with WICU TV Erie, to discuss H.R. 6107, the Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act, a bill aimed at increasing veteran health care access at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Thompson, a licensed medical professional with 30 years of experience in a non-profit health care setting, introduced the VETS Act on July 13, 2012.
The VETS Act builds upon Thompson's Servicemembers Telemedicine & E-Health Portability (STEP) Act -- now Public Law 112-81, Section 713 -- that allowed credentialed Department of Defense (DoD) health care professionals to work across state borders performing telemedicine, without having to obtain additional licensure. Thompson's VETS Act removes the same state licensure requirements for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), creating more access and efficiency in the system.
WICU's Kevin MacDowell: As the debate over health care reform continues, on Capitol Hill, there's one aspect Democrats and Republicans agree on - health care accessibility, for veterans. Congressman Glenn Thompson recently introduced legislation to expand veterans' health care. Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro, has the story.
WICU's Jacqueline Policastro: Congressman Thompson's bill is called the Veterans E-health and Telemedicine Support Act, the VETS act for short. Thompson says telemedicine is a great way to help treat Veterans who are struggling with mental health conditions.
Representative Thompson: It really came out of my discussions with my son, who's in the Army, when he was telling me about some of his friends that had committed suicide, following return from deployment.
Jacqueline Policastro: Thompson explained right now, VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) health care professionals who use telemedicine have to be licensed in the state they reside in and in the state where the veterans they're treating live, too.
Rep. Thompson: That's almost impossible. That's so cumbersome. This limits the amount of providers out there who can provide the care that these men and women have earned and deserve. My bill addresses that.
Jacqueline Policastro: Thompson says his VETS act makes telemedicine more cost effective. He shared he's proud he can use his professional experience in the health care field to help make a difference in the lives of those who've served our country.
Rep. Thompson: It's an honor to be working with the frontline service members like my son and daughter-in-law, but also the command at the pentagon who've been wonderful to work with on these types of issues.
Jacqueline Policastro: The VETS Act already had bipartisan support. In fact, Thompson introduced the bill alongside democratic congressman Charlie Rangel of New York. In Washington, Jacqueline Policastro, WICU 12 News.