February 7, 2016

Senate moving on telemedicine insurance coverage (AUDIO)

A proposal seen as a boost to medical care in rural areas is moving through the state senate.  

Senator Kiki Curls’ bill applies to cities, but it is considered most important for the country folks.  It says health insurance companies must provide the same coverage for medial  services delivered through telemedicine as it would provide for face-to-face doctor visits.

Telemedicine allows health care professionals to use internet cameras to consult with and treat patients far away. 

Senate agriculture committee chairman Brian Munzlinger of Lewistown, who represents 14 northeast Missouri counties, says the plan can be a convenience as well as a lifeline. He tells Curls, “We just don’t have the providers of health care that we need. We’ve got a lot of good doctors there but we don’t have some of the specialists. Your bill will allow the payment of those specialists to provide the care through our local doctors.”

He says doctors used to talk to specialists over the phone  But the specialists couldn’t see the patient, a problem technology has solved.  Munzlinger thinks care will improve because insurance companies will have to cover that care if the bill becomes law.

     Curls, who is from Kansas City, is the only member of the Senate Agriculture Committee from a metropolitan area.  She says the issue is a personal one for her because her father has heart trouble and telemedicine probably has saved his life at least a couple of times.

AUDIO: Floor debate 8:58