A snapshot of the current state of America’s health landscape from the Centers for Disease Control Health Disparities and Inequalities Report paints a very bleak picture. The report indicates that approximately 38 percent of African American women with coronary heart disease die before the age 75, compared to only 19.4 percent of Caucasian women. The statistics are far worse for African American men with coronary heart disease, with close to 62 percent dying before the age of 75 – a number that exceeds Caucasian men’s rate, which currently stands at 41.5 percent.
For decades, studies such as this have revealed the severe health disparities that currently exist in America – much of which are caused by a lack of access to care, especially for poorer communities. As our government and health care organizations continue to work to decrease these gaps, policymakers must continue to work diligently to remove any legislative or regulatory barriers that impede progress.
With the wide spread expansion of broadband technology, telemedicine is becoming an incredibly effective solution that is providing a new alternative to improve our current health care landscape. These innovations not only result in the substantial reduction of health care disparities, but also in a reduction of healthcare costs across the country.
Hundreds of applications have already been developed, and states that have passed telehealth legislation are realizing many of the benefits. For example, if a patient has heart disease, the use of telemedicine can allow cardiologists to monitor their patient’s vital signs remotely through a patient’s mobile device. These advances can save time, money, and allow physicians to closely monitor the health of their patients at a distance. This example is just one of the many uses of telemedicine, and the more states that adopt telehealth legislation, the more patients these applications can serve.
This year alone, Maryland and Vermont joined the ranks of the list of states that now require private-sector insurance companies to pay for telemedicine services. Twelve other states that are already part of the growing national trend to accept telehealth as an additional way of delivering health services include: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia.
Telemedicine is a global game changer in health care, and this initiative is one positive step that we as policymakers are taking towards eradicating healthcare disparities. As we continue in this fight, we are committed to addressing the needs of our communities, and we call on all of our colleagues to join us in this fight to improve America’s healthcare future.
Johnson is ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Weston-Broome is a member of the Lousiana State Senate and is a communications consultant.
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