Veterans Affairs healthcare providers will now be able to use telehealth and virtual technology to administer care to patients in other states, despite licensing restrictions, the VA announced May 11, 2018.

The VA instituted a new rule, designed in conjunction with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice, to give healthcare providers the authority to use telemedicine capabilities across the country to treat patients. Licensing restrictions and state-specific telehealth laws previously meant that healthcare providers were uncertain whether they could use virtual capabilities to treat patients that were in other states.

The rule was first proposed in August 2017 as part of a push to help providers located in major metropolitan areas to connect with often underserved rural patients.

“This new rule is critical to VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ initiative,” said acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a news release on the announcement. “Now that the rule has been finalized, VA providers and patients can start enjoying the full benefits of VA’s telehealth services.”

According to the news release, the rule will be particularly helpful for veterans seeking mental health and suicide prevention services, as that care can now be provided quickly through virtual tools.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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