New Bill Passed That Extends Telemedicine Coverage
January 13, 2014 — By Erica Barnes
Many service members across the nation are celebrating, with the news of the telemedicine coverage bill that passed last week. The bill is part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed in by President Obama the last week of 2013.
The extension in telemedicine coverage extends the health insurance coverage provided to service members under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP). Previously this insurance coverage only provided service members with 180 days of health insurance coverage while they transition into civilian life—however, with the extension they will now receive a total of 360 days of health insurance coverage.
The primary motivation for the extension for the telemedicine coverage is to provide support to service members who have delayed onset of Post Traumatic Stress—which often does not present itself for 8-10 months after they return from deployment. The bill ensures that service members do not have the added burden of needing health insurance coverage when they need it most.
The bill was pushed through by Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-Pa)—who is also the same representative who pushed through the 2011 STEP Act allowing Defense healthcare providers to provide their invaluable services across stateliness.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will be providing an additional $300,000 grant to the states of Maine, Montana, and Alaska to improve the quality of services to veterans in these more remote area. The money is designed to improve PTSD treatment and detection, as well as the treatment and detection of traumatic brain injury.
With the growing awareness of PTSD, the Department of Defense has increased their support for telemedicine coverage. They have even launched a smartphone app that has a mood tracker, and they are currently working on a biofeedback app that can be used by veterans outside of a medical facility.
Telemedicine coverage has been offered since 1992. As this transitional coverage continues to evolve they are embracing more mobile programs that can be accessed fully through smartphones—instead of fixed-based access only. While telemedicine coverage can be utilized for behavioral health concerns, it covers a wide range of medical needs too.