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FTC Staff Comment Supports VA Telehealth Rule that Will Increase Access to Care, Promote Competition, and Benefit Veterans.

Federal Trade Commission staff submitted a comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in support of its proposed rule that would clarify that VA health care practitioners may provide telehealth services to beneficiaries notwithstanding any contrary state licensing laws, rules, or requirements.

Responding to the VA’s request for public comments, staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Economics and Competition stated that the proposed rule, Authority of Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth, would ensure that VA telehealth practitioners may provide services to or from non-federal sites, such as a home, regardless of whether the practitioner is licensed in the state where the patient is located.

FTC staff believe that the proposed rule would likely increase access to telehealth services, increase the supply of telehealth providers, increase the range of choices available to patients, improve health care outcomes, and reduce the VA’s health care costs, thereby benefiting veterans, especially those in underserved areas or who are unable to travel. The VA’s rulemaking would also send an important signal to non-VA health care providers, state legislatures, employers, patients, and others regarding the tremendous potential of telehealth to promote competition and improve access to care.

The Commission vote to issue the staff comment was 2-0. It was sent to the Director, Regulation Policy and Management, Department of Veterans Affairs on November 1, 2017. (FTC File No. V180001; the staff contact is Karen A. Goldman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2574).