OP-ED: Telemedicine

By Senator Jake Corman
Senate Majority Leader

As our Commonwealth grapples with the current public health emergency, the desperate need for telemedicine has never been better illustrated than it is today. For those who struggle with chronic illnesses and our homebound families, telemedicine reduces in-person contact in healthcare settings to mitigate the risk of further spread of COVID-19. 

Unfortunately it appears narrow political ideology is going to deny my constituents, and rural Pennsylvanians, access to life saving medicine. 

Telemedicine is a game changer for rural families, and it helps people throughout the state.  Our rural families would no longer have to travel hours to receive medical care. Those in more urban settings would not need to rely on public transportation schedules to get to their doctor appointment on time.

 Making telemedicine an option for Pennsylvanians increases the quality of life in our communities, lowers the cost of healthcare and increases the bond between doctors and patients.

 For many rural families, the thought of having access to a medical professional whenever and wherever you are is an incredible achievement – and that point is the essence of this legislative initiative.

Unfortunately it appears that the Governor’s strict adherence to a narrow political ideology is going to deny my constituents, and rural Pennsylvanians, access to life saving medicine. 

The Governor has announced he intends to veto this bill – and along with it veto access to more efficient and better health care for Pennsylvanians.  The reason – one of the dozens of drugs on the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies list of  that must be administered in-person in a clinical setting is an abortion drug. If the FDA says a drug isn’t safe to be administered outside of a clinical setting then we shouldn’t endanger the lives and health of Pennsylvanians by allowing it.

 Nothing in the bill changes anything about existing medical care. Not one thing. Patients can still access these drugs on this list through an in-person visit. There are no new restrictions. To suggest otherwise is just a partisan falsehood.    

 Telemedicine could be an important part of our health system even after this pandemic is over, and we have a responsibility to ensure this new tool is used safely.

 With more visits being conducted through the use of technology, telemedicine decreases unnecessary emergency room visits, maximizes limited physician resources, decreases hospital readmissions, while creating countless savings on the cost of healthcare.

 Telemedicine saves time, money and lives. It helps to strike the long-sought balance for healthcare practitioners who want the opportunity to offer valuable medical support and information while at the same time improving efficiency of service.

 The Governor should not deny my constituents this access to health care based on Planned Parenthood ideological claims when the bill only embraces federal guidelines.