COLUMBIA MO – 45th District Missouri House Representative-elect Kip Kendrick announces the filing of House Bill 340 today, which will allow the use of telehealth services in schools throughout Missouri. Kendrick says the bill is a simple regulatory change with big payoffs for students in both public and private schools.
Delivered through a high-speed videoconferencing network, telehealth services allow medical professionals to treat both acute and chronic illnesses in patients distantly located from health services. Telehealth patients receive increased access to medical specialists while avoiding potentially long drives and long wait times. Technological advances have made the effectiveness of telehealth more pronounced in recent years.
Currently, telehealth services are primarily limited to medical facilities due to reimbursement regulations. HB340 will allow medical professionals to be reimbursed through Medicaid for school-based telehealth services. Schools will not be mandated to participate in the telehealth program. Rather, the bill removes the funding barrier for telehealth, making it more feasible for schools to adopt the program. Eighteen other states have adopted similar legislation to expand telehealth services to schools.
“School-based telehealth has proven effective in managing illnesses. Research shows decreased hospitalizations, increased school attendance, and improved school performance. This is an innovative way to improve health and learning for our children,” Kendrick said.
Rachel Mutrux, Program Director for Missouri Telehealth Network praised the bill: “Expanding telehealth locations to include schools significantly improves access to healthcare. School-based telehealth programs will allow students to see their healthcare provider without taking time away from school. With parental consent, students with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or even an ear ache could receive timely treatment through the use of video technology and other tools specifically designed for telemedicine.”
Peter Stiepleman, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, is also supportive of the bill. “Our legacy will be how well we helped children reach their potential and providing access to medical resources is a major component. School-based telehealth may provide one more tool in our efforts to narrow the achievement gap,” he said.
Having worked with children with disabilities for the past three years at Boone County Family Resources, Kendrick says he understands the demand for this service.
“We need to do everything we can to support Missouri’s children and families, including broadening access to 21st century healthcare through school-based telehealth. It just makes sense.”