MacGregor’s telehealth bill headed to governor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — A bill that could improve access to health care services in Michigan was finalized by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday and is now headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.

Senate Bill 753 would define telehealth in the state’s health code to encourage medical professionals to utilize modern technologies, like live interactive video, audio and others to connect and communicate with patients remotely, and to also provide patient protections under the law.

“This is a common sense health care reform for a modern age,” said Sen. Pete MacGregor, R-Rockford, the bill sponsor. “Society has never been more connected, yet a patient’s ability to see a medical professional is becoming more and more constrained as hospital wait times grow. This bill would help improve access to care, which could lead to healthier patient outcomes.”

SB 753 defines telehealth in the state health code as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support or promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, or health administration. Telehealth may include telemedicine, which was established in the state insurance code in 2012.

Under the bill, medical professionals would be permitted to diagnose, prescribe and administer referrals within the existing legal framework when providing telehealth services.

Additionally, like traditional health professional practice, a disciplinary subcommittee may place restrictions or conditions on a health professional’s ability to provide telehealth services.

The bill has received broad support from within the health care community and beyond, including from the U.S. Department of Justice, General Motors, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners, Teledoc, Economic Alliance for Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Spectrum Health, and Ascension Michigan.

“Telehealth could transform health care in Michigan,” MacGregor said. “It allows health care professionals to extend their reach beyond a corner office to meet patients where they are. It enhances access to and use of health care in our state, reduces costs, encourages competition, and, most importantly, could lead to healthier lives.”

SB 753 was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives and awaits the governor’s signature.