Telemedicine company: North Dakota bill limits services

January 16, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A company that provides clinical health care over the phone is opposed to legislation in North Dakota that would restrict telemedicine services.

The bill supported by the North Dakota Board of Medicine would require patients to have an initial in-person visit with a doctor or using video chat to establish an ongoing treatment plan, the Bismarck Tribune reported .

Dr. Donna Campell, a member of the Texas Senate and an emergency care physician who works with telemedicine company Teladoc, said providing clinical health care via phone is especially important for rural patients who live too far from a hospital and have no access to broadband internet.

Bonnie Storbakken, executive secretary of the North Dakota Board of Medicine, previously argued that the legislation will ensure patients can verify they’re being treated by a licensed doctor.

Teladoc completed 1,500 virtual visits in North Dakota last year.

“There can be unintended consequences when states pass legislation. Albeit well-intended, some language can actually rob access and diminish savings,” said Claudia Tucker, Teladoc’s vice president of government affairs, at the hearing.

John Ward, a Bismarck attorney and lobbyist representing Teladoc, told lawmakers that the bill is arbitrary.

In 2017, the state Board of Medicine proposed a rule that would require the video or in-patient visit to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee. The panel ultimately denied the proposed rule and instead asked the board to present a bill to the full Legislature.

“One of the important aspects is the Legislature will have oversight over this so it’s not just an administrative agency,” Ward said, of the bill being introduced this session.

The Senate Human Services Committee did not take action on the bill Monday.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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