A pair of telemedicine bills that would reform standards and credentialing passed both the House and Senate Chambers, and have been sent to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for a signature. Both bills were the primary sponsorship of Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia.
SB 5386, which aims to develop standards in telemedicine training, and SB 5387, which allows practitioners to rely on credentials from a distant hospital, were placed on their third reading last Thursday, April 4, and passed the House with bipartisan support and a unanimous 93-0 vote.
In a media release last Monday, Becker said she was pleased to see the amount of bipartisan support the bills received in both the Senate and House. Becker, a member of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, also said these bills are part of a larger effort to make healthcare more accessible.
“It’s a challenge for people who live in areas to get adequate health and mental healthcare where there isn’t easy access to care providers, particularly specialists. This includes many of my constituents because there isn’t a hospital in my district,” Becker stated. “Telemedicine closes that distance and allows the healthcare system to do a better job making patients well.
Becker also said the telemedicine industry could save insurance companies $6 billion a year in healthcare costs and that the practice lowers most patients’ health care costs. Last year, Inslee signed into law SB 6399, a Becker-sponsored bill which established a telemedicine payment parity pilot program to better pay practitioners.
Two other telemedicine healthcare bills introduced this session by Becker, SB 5385 and SB 5389, passed the Senate and have since stalled in the House Appropriations Committee. SB 5385 would ensure telemedicine providers are paid at the same rate as if the practitioner were to see the patient in person. SB 5389 would expand telemedicine practices to public schools.