Transparency, 'Telehealth' Bills Moving In House

Jan 21, 2016

Continuing to look for different approaches to health care, a House committee Wednesday approved bills that would require more transparency about medical costs and seek to expand the use of "telehealth."

The House Select Committee on Affordable Healthcare Access approved a bill (HB 1175), sponsored by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, that would take a series of steps aimed at greater disclosure of health-care costs and information about quality. A Senate version (SB 1496), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, passed its first committee Tuesday.

Sprowls said supporters of the transparency effort want consumers to be able to go online and shop for health care.

"The idea is to pull back the curtain,'' Sprowls said. The House committee also approved a bill (PCB SCAHA 16-01), presented by Sprowls, that would create a legal framework for telehealth, which involves using the Internet and other technology to provide health services remotely.

The House and Senate have considered telehealth bills the past two years but have been unable to reach agreement.

Sprowls said the effort could particularly help provide services to residents of rural areas.

"They can have an additional avenue of going and receiving care from a world-class doctor,'' Sprowls said. "That's an opportunity that will be available to them."