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  • Washington Highlights

    The VA Announces Final Rule on Telehealth

    Scott Shipman, Director of Primary Care Affairs and Workforce
    Ivy Baer, Senior Director and Regulatory Counsel

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) May 11 released its final rule on the Authority of VA Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth. With this rule, VA health care providers (i.e., those with a VA appointment) can provide telehealth services within VA facilities across state lines. In an effort to improve access for veterans, particularly those in remote, rural, and underserved areas, the VA will allow their health care providers to deliver telehealth services to veterans in states in which the provider is not located, licensed, registered, or certified. With this final rule, the VA is exercising Federal preemption of conflicting state laws, rules, regulations, or requirements that would otherwise prohibit this practice.

    The services covered by this final rule must be within the scope of the provider’s VA appointment and the health care provider’s state license, registration, or certificate. The rule does not apply to community health care providers furnishing care for VA, including health care providers who participate in the Choice program.

    By clearly stating that VA health care providers can now practice telehealth across state lines, this rule, which goes into effect on June 11, is intended to enable providers to take full advantage of the breadth of telehealth modalities to ensure they are meeting the needs of their patients, particularly those in need of mental health, specialty, and general clinical care, no matter their location or the patients’ location. Additionally, the VA will be positioned to further strengthen and expand its telehealth program with new opportunities to train current and future providers on the use of telehealth. In November, the AAMC submitted a comment letter strongly supporting the VA in taking this next step to optimize their current workforce and telehealth program to meet the health care needs of veterans across the nation.