Good news from the Commonwealth of Virginia. This afternoon, Governor McDonnell signed new legislation that will allow for telemedicine reimbursements. The reform is expected to make telemedicine services more broadly available across Virginia and especially in rural communities.
What’s happening in Virginia is an important example of how broadband can drive innovation, improve lives, and serve national purposes like job creation and improving health care.
All of these benefits are at the center of the National Broadband Plan. As Virginia and 11 other states have now shown, policy changes to promote telemedicine are the kind of low-hanging policy fruit that the FCC, Congress, and state legislatures can pick first.
Restrictions on telemedicine reimbursements are a prime example of the kind of policy overhangs from a pre-broadband economy that limit the ability of broadband to be part of the policy solution. Yet there is a broad bipartisan consensus that these laws need to be updated.
I’m proud of Comcast’s small role in Virginia. Comcast partners with some of the leading advocates for telemedicine reforms. Working with UVA’s Dr. Karen Rheuban M.D., who is also president of the American Telemedicine Association, we will provide free high speed Internet to a pilot project in Charlottesville that is constructing "telemedicine homes." And our local Comcasters will pitch in with Habitat for Humanity to help build the houses.
The homes, built for patients with chronic diseases, will include equipment for remote monitoring devices connected to broadband. This is the first time that Habitat will build a home equipped with such equipment and another example of the benefits of broadband adoption.
We also worked with Dr. Rheuban to support the telemedicine bill, which passed the General Assembly unanimously.
As I’ve said many times, building broadband networks and getting people connected to them is just the beginning. The more that the states and federal government can do to break down barriers to broadband’s ability to deliver benefits in health care, education, energy and so many other areas, the sooner we’ll achieve the full promise of broadband.