Delegates Pass Telemedicine Bill to Help Rural Areas

Mar 6, 2017

Delegates have approved a bill that its sponsors hope will expand access to mental and behavioral health medications.

House Bill 2509 allows physicians to prescribe certain controlled substances through telemedicine technologies – like over a video call. Doctors are currently prohibited from prescribing certain types of medications over telemedicine systems, including narcotics like oxycodone and morphine—drugs that have been abused in recent years in the state.

Cabell County Delegate Matthew Rohrbach says while curbing the state’s opioid epidemic is a major focus for lawmakers, this specific bill does not affect those efforts. It still prohibits doctors from prescribing opioids, but would allow prescriptions for behavioral or mental health issues.

“We have a tremendous problem with access to mental health providers, particularly for our pediatric population," Rohrbach explained, "So, ADHD is the main thing that this is gonna seek to close, so kids that have ADHD can be treated via telehealth to get their aderol and other prescriptions for such, so this is not to allow pill mills; this is really to extend for our mental health providers a way to service our clients in rural areas.”

House bill 2509 passed 95 to 4 Monday. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.