House committee approves telemedicine bill

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Telemedicine in Florida received a substantial boost when a House panel approved a bill Monday, with supporters saying the use telecommunications in medicine would lower health-care costs and give Floridians broader access to care.

“This is an obvious innovation that our citizens really need,” said Rep. John Wood in the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meeting,

HB 751 was approved with a 10-3 vote.

Telemedicine encompasses physicians who provide care remotely through using Internet technology and telecommunications.

Both the House and Senate are currently hearing bills to set guidelines and standards for the use of telemedicine, but with slightly different approaches on the amount of regulation.

Several House members questioned if out-of-state doctors would use telemedicine to provide care to patients in Florida.

“I am very, very concerned about liability and the accountability of out-of-state providers,” said Democrat Rep. Elaine Schwartz, who, along with Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, were the three no votes.

Republican Rep. Travis Cummings, who co-sponsored the bill with Democratic Rep. Mia Jones said he expects to submit an amendment to address those concerns by the next committee.

Cumming asserted that out-of-state doctors could provide more access to care.

“Our intent is to offer the access and quality, knowing that there aren’t only good physicians in our state,” Cummings added.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.