Delegates pass telemedicine bill to help serve rural areas


The Exponent Telegram

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Delegates have approved a bill that its sponsors hope will expand access to mental and behavioral health medications.

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

Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, said while curbing the state’s opioid epidemic is a major focus for lawmakers, this specific bill doesn’t 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 said. “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 Adderall 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 on Monday. It now is in the Senate for further consideration.

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