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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Department of Defense to Expand Use of Telemedicine

Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (District includes Potter, McKean) today announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has changed its policy on telemedicine, expanding access so that service men and women can receive care in their own homes, rather than exclusively at a military treatment facility.  The announcement represents further implementation of the Servicemembers Telemedicine and E-Health Portability, or STEP, Act, which was authored by Thompson and signed into law in 2011.
According to the memo from Assistant Secretary of Defense Jonathan Woodson, M.D., the use of telemedicine will ‘greatly expand options accessing care and advice’ for servicemembers.
“Under the current system, members of our military are forced to travel long distances for medical treatment and health care,” Thompson said.  “The announcement from the Department of Defense will make good on the intent of the law and ensure that our service members can receive the care they require in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.  This expansion will be a great encouragement for those seeking behavioral and mental health services.”
The STEP Act has earned support from a number of groups in the military community, including:
  • The Air Force Association
  • The American Legion
  • The Association of the United States Navy
  • The Enlisted Association of the National Guard
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • Mental Health America
  • Military Offices Association of America
  • National Guard Association of the United States
  • Reserve Enlisted Association
  • Reserve Officers Association
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
“This will greatly enhance the health care of our service members, families and retirees,” said Reserve Officers Association (ROA) Executive Director Jeffrey Phillips.  “Guard and Reserve families rarely live close to military medical facilities.  Telemedicine makes care more accessible and the ROA is proud to have helped Rep. Thompson and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in this important reform.”