June 2018 – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that a new federal ruling provides VA doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners the authority to provide care to disabled Veterans via “telehealth” (i.e. virtual technology) no matter where the Veteran resides or where the provider is located within the United States.
Prior to the new federal rule, VA healthcare providers were uncertain if they could administer care by means of telehealth to disabled Veterans in other states, mostly due to licensing restrictions or state specific telehealth laws. The new rule preemptively overrides state restrictions at the federal level, allowing the VA to broaden its reach in caring for disabled Veterans. The VA worked in conjunction with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice in order to bring about the new rule.
“This new rule is critical to VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ initiative,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA’s telehealth services.”
By allowing disabled & injured Veterans to obtain care, regardless of where they live, the rule will predominantly benefit those living in rural areas; thereby eliminating their need to travel across state lines in order to receive the care they need. As an example, critical care, such as mental healthcare and suicide prevention, can be provided virtually by telehealth which gives the Veteran provider access that is easier & quicker, when time is of the essence.
The proposed rule, initially titled “Authority of Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth”, was announced at a White House event last August, during which the VA and President Donald Trump launched the “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative.
In addition, the VA revealed a video conferencing app (VA Video Connect) that would enable VA healthcare providers and Veterans to connect, providing care to disabled Veterans anywhere in the United States, including the Veteran’s home.
In order to learn more about the VA’s telehealth “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative, visit VA’s Office of Connected Care at: https://connectedcare.va.gov/