State Rep. Mary Littleton Works to Make Telemedicine Permanent in State’s Health Practices


As the aggressive Covid-19 virus spreads across Tennessee, State Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson is putting Tennessee patients first by creating health care solutions that increase access to high quality services while lowering overall costs. Members of the House of Representatives on March 19 unanimously approved a bill that paves the way to increase the electronic delivery of care in Tennessee through telemedicine. House Bill 1699, sponsored by Littleton and Robin Smith, R-Hixson, defines provider-based telemedicine by adding a private location that a patient deems appropriate to receive services. “This will help many Tennesseans who can't visit a doctor’s office for a routine well visit or who have a non-emergency health need to address,” Littleton said. “This legislation is a key part of our much larger Republican plan to reform health care in our state and I’m proud to have supported House Bill 1699 as it moved through the House.” House Bill 1699 protects existing tele-health arrangements that do not require an existing doctor-patient relationship. It also creates a structure for all providers to use telemedicine with established patients who have been seen in their practice in the last 18 months for follow-up care at home, in their place of work or other mobile locations as long as the provider has access to the relevant public record. Chronically ill patients with ailments like diabetes and congestive heart failure will benefit from the inclusion of remote patient monitoring which is currently a service provided by Medicare. “As Chairman of the House Insurance Committee and sponsor of this legislation, I believe this conservative solution to health care delivery in Tennessee will provide an extraordinary benefit to our citizens, whether in response to this virus pandemic or by meeting the needs of Tennessee patients in their homes or place or work,” Smith said. “It is an honor to partner with Speaker Sexton and Representative. Littleton to utilize innovation and increase access to quality health services for more of our citizens through telemedicine.” House Bill 1699 includes a key provision for payment parity among doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants because providers and hospitals should be equally reimbursed by insurance companies for the services they provide. “The electronic delivery of specialized care through telemedicine will drastically improve patient safety by reducing the likelihood of Covid-19 exposure in the weeks and months ahead,” said Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “This innovative concept will also untangle our current monopolistic approach to health care in Tennessee by increasing access to resources - especially in our rural communities - so we can better serve citizens.” Telemedicine has provided a safe alternative to inpatient visits under current circumstances. Utilizing this innovative tool will help continue to flatten the virus curve and reduce an anticipated surge of patients in Tennessee. House Bill 1699 ensures this effective tool remains a key part of health care delivery for all Tennesseans. For information about House Bill 1699, visit here<http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/111/Bill/HB1699.pdf