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Bean: Telemedicine Odds Better in 2015

Florida Senate

State Sen. Aaron Bean said a proposed telemedicine bill is likely to pass this session.

Bean, chairman of the Senate Health Policy committee told a business-friendly health conference in Orlando Monday that a key is incorporating the treatment of patients using Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor.

“That’s what’s really going to be the spark,” said Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.We have 3.7 million people that get their health care through our Medicaid program, and we think it’s a fantastic way to increase quality, increase visits, but yet do it in an economical way that we think we might even be able to save money by using this technology.”

Bean led a panel discussion on telemedicine at the Associated Industries of Florida’s Health Care Affordability Summit, which continues today.  Health News Florida is covering the conference and its keynote speaker Eliot Fishman, a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services official who indicated the state will be losing its critical Low-Income Pool funding next year.  Check back with Health News Florida for that developing story.

Bean told business leaders at the event the state is ready to increase how it practices remote medicine.

“We can do it in many cases much more efficiently. I don’t want to say cheaper,’’ he said. “That’s a dirty word in health care.”

A telemedicine bill failed in the 2014 Legislature.  The new bill, which already has bipartisan support, is significantly simpler than last year’s 26-page effort.

“Last year we got very detailed and probably got caught up in the weeds in some of the details,” Bean sad. “The bill was 26 pages. Our current draft is 3 pages this year. So we let the free market decide.”

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.