The Senate passes telehealth care bill

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The doctor will see you now – online.

The Senate passed a measure today to encourage the practice of incorporating new communication technologies when treating patients, broadly known as telehealth. Senate Bill 112 states that a doctor would be able to log in from anywhere in the world to treat a Kentucky resident. The physician, however, would still have to be licensed in Kentucky.

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“Telemedicine is gradually changing the way medicine is delivered,” said sponsor Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester. “Telemedicine allows providers to implement cost-saving strategies such as video conference follow-ups and remote patient monitoring that decreases hospitalizations and increases the quality of care.”

He said it also connects patients with specialists that may not have offices in the area and reduces the burden of long commutes to see doctors. He said that would be beneficial in rural communities that lack such specialists.

“Telemedicine has been proven to save money where implemented,” Alvarado said.

He cited a study which found savings of 7.7 percent to 13.3 percent per patient, per quarter, for chronically ill Medicare recipients. Alvarado added a telemedicine option available to employees of Kentucky has already saved the state $2.5 million.

Alvarado said SB 112 would pave the way for Kentucky to implement a telemedicine option for Medicaid recipients.

Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, introduced Senate Floor Amendment 3 which would prohibit telehealth from being used in the performance of an abortion. He said “webcam abortions” have been outlawed in 19 states. The amendment was adopted by a 32-2 vote.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, voted for the bill but expressed concern that the measure didn’t provide a mechanism for health care providers and health insurers to negotiate reimbursement rates for telehealth visits. He said he was concerned the insurers would be forced to pay the same amount as they do for office visits.

SB 112 passed by 36-0 vote. The measure now goes to the House for further consideration.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.