Last week, President Obama signed a bill into law to extend the telehealth coverage for military service members as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act
Under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP), military service members transitioning to civilian life collect 180 days of health insurance coverage. The new bill will amend TAMP coverage to cover an additional 180 days for health services delivered through telemedicine.
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) pushed the bill to increase access to health care services for service members suffering from mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thompson has also advocated for the 2011 STEP Act, which allows Defense healthcare providers to practice across state lines. The Department of Defense has embraced telehealth, especially in providing mental health services.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers grants to Montana, Maine and Alaska that provide $300,000 each to improve services in remote areas to veterans. The grants are aimed at helping providers coordinate care online to detect and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and other injuries.
The Army is in a transitioning period. They have been using telehealth since 1992, but are evolving from fixed-based access sites to highly mobile programs using cell phones and mobile devices. It has 22 service lines available, with behavioral health consultations making up over 50 percent of telemedicine services.