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Rep. Harper: Mississippi Is Leader In Tele-Medicine

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Apr 2014 07:00pm | comments
Frm. Sen Trent Lott, Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Harper
Mississippi is being highlighted as an example for the future of tele-medicine nation wide. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports third district congressman Greg Harper is urging the federal government to follow the state's lead.
Mississippi has more relaxed rules that allows Medicaid and private insurers to reimburse doctors who use tele-medicine at rate similar to an in office visit. 
As a result, says third district congressman Greg Harper, the state has become a leader in the use of the Internet and video conferencing to treat illness.
"The practical impact of this is, whether it is patient convenience or the fact that a physician can no really see more patients and provide more health care to more people when you are in a state where you do have a primary physician shortage, this is a way to address that," Harper said.
Harper is pushing a bill that would bring those changes to Medicare, which he thinks will spur an increase in the use of the medical technology nation wide. 
Harper was joined at the University of Mississippi Medical center, which is a hub for tele-medicine, by house majority whip Kevin McCarthy of California. 
McCarthy says the Mississippi model is a useful illustration for Washington.
"The challenge that we have is Washington does not always keep up with technology. We want to keep the tradition of the past where you have the relationship between the doctor and the patient face to face. But you want to apply it to a changing future where i can pick up my I-phone and I don't have to drive to hours to see a doctor," McCarthy said.
Kristi Henderson, who runs the tele-health center, says showing doctors they can make money with the has driven its increasing use.
"The delivery of health care is less than in the other model where people had to travel to get health care. Or worse went without," Henderson said.
In Mississippi alone, Medicare spends more than 5-billion dollars a year, often making the program a huge influence on the direction of health care across the industry.


Frm. Sen Trent Lott, Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Harper



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