Senator Elder Vogel
362 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203047
Harrisburg, PA 17120
On behalf of The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), thank you for accepting testimony from interested stakeholders as you explore opportunities to expand and improve the delivery of health care through telemedicine in Pennsylvania. ERIC is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the federal, state, and local levels. We speak in one voice for our members on their benefit and compensation interests, including many members with employees and retirees in Pennsylvania.
As plan sponsors, our members strive to provide the best health care possible to their employees, retirees, and families at an affordable cost. At ERIC, we seek to enhance our members’ ability to provide high-quality, affordable health care. We recognize the significant opportunity provided by telemedicine to modernize health care delivery and improve access to quality medical care for workers and their dependents.
ERIC members want their employees to have the care they need – when and how they need it. Telemedicine offers many unique benefits that are appreciated by employees, retirees, and their families because it:
- Increases access to medical care by allowing the patient-provider encounter to occur at a convenient location like home or work, and it prevents standard office hours from being a barrier to health care;
- Provides access to care for rural and urban underserved populations, retirees, the elderly, disabled employees, and those with language barriers, chronic conditions, or transportation barriers that may otherwise not have access to care;
- Minimizes the time spent attending a health care provider visit, making telehealth a great value to working parents, caregivers, and others struggling to balance work and family demands; and
- Allows access to health care that is provided at an affordable, cost-effective rate.
ERIC is pleased that Senate Bill 780 (S. 780) considers the needs of patients by allowing better access to care through the use of telemedicine, while recognizing that providers must maintain a high standard of care. ERIC believes that the standards governing in-person visits that ensure patient safety and quality care should also apply to telemedicine encounters. We appreciate that S. 780 permits the patient-provider relationship to be established through telemedicine services because requiring an initial in-person visit creates a barrier to access to health care.
Additionally, we are supportive of legislation that adopts technology-neutral requirements. This bill’s permission of audio communication without video (after reviewing a patient’s medical records), rather than exclusively two-way audio-visual communication, will benefit citizens that, either because of location or income level, cannot access a high-speed network connection. Finally, since cost savings are a foreseen benefit of telemedicine adoption, ERIC values the bill’s language permitting reimbursement for telemedicine encounters to be established between the health care practitioner and insurer.
ERIC urges you to consider the needs of patients in Pennsylvania that stand to benefit from increased access to telemedicine services, to support S. 780, and to advance this bill favorably.
Thank you for accepting our input on this legislation. ERIC is pleased to represent large employers with the goal of ensuring telemedicine benefits are accessible for millions of workers, retirees, and their families. If you have any questions concerning our written testimony, or if we can be of further assistance, please contact me at agreathouse@ERIC.org or 202-627-1914.
Senior Associate, Health Policy