S 1124

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 1124

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the utilization of teleconsultation, teleretinal imaging, telemedicine, and telehealth coordination services for the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 26, 2011

Mr. CONRAD introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the utilization of teleconsultation, teleretinal imaging, telemedicine, and telehealth coordination services for the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Veterans Telemedicine Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. TELECONSULTATION AND TELEMEDICINE.

    (a) Teleconsultation and Teleretinal Imaging-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Subchapter I of chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 1709. Teleconsultation and teleretinal imaging

    `(a) Teleconsultation- (1) The Secretary shall carry out a program of teleconsultation for the provision of remote mental health and traumatic brain injury assessments in facilities of the Department that are not otherwise able to provide such assessments without contracting with third party providers or reimbursing providers through a fee basis system.

    `(2) The Secretary shall, in consultation with appropriate professional societies, promulgate technical and clinical care standards for the use of teleconsultation services within facilities of the Department.

    `(b) Teleretinal Imaging- (1) The Secretary shall carry out a program of teleretinal imaging in each Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN).

    `(2) In each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2010 and ending with fiscal year 2015, the Secretary shall increase the number of patients enrolled in each teleretinal imaging program under paragraph (1) by not less than five percent from the number of patients enrolled in each respective program in the previous fiscal year.

    `(c) Definitions- In this section:

      `(1) The term `teleconsultation' means the use by a health care specialist of telecommunications to assist another health care provider in rendering a diagnosis or treatment.

      `(2) The term `teleretinal imaging' means the use by a health care specialist of telecommunications, digital retinal imaging, and remote image interpretation to provide eye care.'.

      (2) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 17 of such title is amended by inserting after the item related to section 1708 the following new item:

      `1709. Teleconsultation and teleretinal imaging.'.

    (b) Training in Telemedicine- The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall require each Department of Veterans Affairs facility that is involved in the training of medical residents to work with each university concerned to develop an elective rotation in telemedicine for such residents.

    (c) Enhancement of VERA-

      (1) INCENTIVES FOR PROVISION OF TELECONSULTATION, TELERETINAL IMAGING, TELEMEDICINE, AND TELEHEALTH SERVICES- The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall modify the Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation system to provide incentives for the utilization of teleconsultation, teleretinal imaging, telemedicine, and telehealth coordination services.

      (2) INCLUSION OF TELEMEDICINE VISITS IN WORKLOAD REPORTING- The Secretary shall modify the Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation system to require the inclusion of all telemedicine visits in the calculation of facility workload.

    (d) Definitions- In this section:

      (1) TELECONSULTATION AND TELERETINAL IMAGING- The terms `teleconsultation' and `teleretinal imaging' have the meanings given such terms in section 1720G of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a).

      (2) TELEMEDICINE- The term `telemedicine' means the use by a health care provider of telecommunications to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient's medical condition.

      (3) TELEHEALTH- The term `telehealth' means the use of telecommunications to collect patient data remotely and send data to a monitoring station for interpretation.

END