Thompson discuss urges Pentago to fully implement STEP Act law
May 9, 2013
Mr. Speaker, two years ago, I worked with the Congressional Armed Services Committees to include the Service members Telemedicine and E-Health Portability Act, or STEP Act, as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
The law expands telemedicine at the Department of Defense by allowing credentialed care professionals to perform telehealth consultations across state lines, which is great news for our service members, especially those facing mental illness.
Instead of waiting weeks for consultation, these men and women can now access care without delay while avoiding the stigma that is oftentimes associated with seeking treatment.
Last year the DoD issued a waiver to expand telemedicine and begin implementation. In 2012, the Army was able to perform nearly 36,000 teleconsultations.
Despite progress, TRICARE providers were not included in the waiver, limiting thousands of professionals from providing services. Second, the waiver does not allow service members to use telemedicine from their homes -- but, what better way to avoid the stigma of seeking treatment than to access care from the privacy of one's home.
For our service members to reap the STEP Act's full intended benefit, the Pentagon must fully implement this law.