Thursday, April 29, 2010

State Spotlight! Maine and Virginia Pass Telemedicine Bills

As we mark Stroke Month in May, it is important to take a look at the great progress that is being made in states around the country to improve stroke treatment and care. Recently, Maine and Virginia passed important legislation that will help improve patients’ access to timely, medical expertise through telemedicine. Telemedicine enables medical professionals to use information technologies to deliver critical care to patients from a distance. Congratulations to Maine and Virginia advocates on these important stroke policy successes!

Maine- As part of a campaign to develop a stroke system of care for their rural state, the AHA/ASA’s Maine You’re the Cure team, and its partners, knew passage of the telemedicine bill was a critical part of improving stroke treatment in the state. Thanks to the work of dedicated staff and advocates, such as Shawn and Andrea Withers, who have worked tirelessly for years to raise awareness with lawmakers about the need to address stroke in the state, the bill (LD 1073) passed the legislature with great support. Passage of the bill was a major step in enabling community hospitals and their physicians to collaborate with a major stroke center with 24-hour telemedicine consultation service and receive reimbursement for providing the service as physicians would in “face to face” patient consultations.

Virginia- Recognizing the need to make telemedicine services more accessible and affordable to Virginians, AHA/ASA advocates teamed up with state Senator William Wampler to see the telemedicine bill, SB 675, through the legislature and signed into law this year. The new law requires health insurers in the state to provide reimbursement for services provided through telemedicine. Dr. Nina Solenski, a stroke neurologist at the University of Virginia, led the team of dedicated You’re the Cure advocates to ensure the bill’s success. Dr. Solenski met with key legislators, provided testimony, and even mobilized and motivated others in her community and on the Virginia Stroke Systems Task Force, which she chairs, to act too! Hundreds of emails and phone calls were generated by advocates to support the bill.

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