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Rep. Carol McElwee (R-Caribou)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 02/12/14

Public Hearing Held for Bill to Bring Telemedicine to Seniors, Jobs to Caribou

Rep. McElwee's bill met with enthusiastic support Wednesday

AUGUSTA - State Representative Carol McElwee (R-Caribou)'s bill to add "telemedicine" to the list of services covered under MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program, received a public hearing before the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday.

Telemedicine is the use of phones or video conferencing to allow patients to receive health care from home without a doctor's visit. Patients may apply monitoring devices so that health care professionals can remotely measure vital signs and monitor health conditions.

"I know many seniors who have trouble making it to their appointments, especially in the winter, and telemedicine offers a simple and convenient solution to that problem," said Rep. McElwee, who was appointed last year to the Council of State Governments' Health Committee, where she works with policymakers from around the country to share ideas for improving health care. "Telemedicine would help our Medicaid system care for those who need it most while reducing costs."

Virtual Managed Solutions, LLC, has come forward announcing that it would offer telemedicine services to MaineCare recipients if Rep. McElwee's bill passes. C. B. Smith, the company's CEO, said he hopes to create over 40 new, good-paying jobs in its health technology center in Caribou providing telemedicine services to seniors.

"We're enthusiastic about the possibility of hiring more people in our Caribou location and I'd like to thank Rep. McElwee for introducing this bill," said C. B. Smith, CEO of Virtual Managed Solutions, when the bill was first introduced. "It seems to me that there's unanimous support for this proposal. Everyone seems to agree that technological advancements will be key elements in the rise of patient wellness and a reduction in health care costs."

Also testifying in favor of the bill were MaineHealth hospitals, Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine, and others.

"We commend Representative McElwee for her efforts in bringing this bill forward and for her recognition of the need to proactively address the growing demands and dwindling resources in Maine's healthcare delivery system," said Vicki Purgavie, executive director of the Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine, in her testimony. "Through the use of telemonitoring with our Medicare patients, hospital admissions and readmissions are dropping significantly, especially when we look at the chronically ill population—such as heart disease, COPD, diabetes, and cancer."

"Maine seniors are in great need of health care services that are more convenient and offer safer alternatives to traveling out on dangerous roads in the winter," added Rep. McElwee. "Another great thing about this proposal is the possible creation of dozens of high quality jobs in the County, where we certainly could use them."

Rep. Carol McElwee, a retired teacher, serves on the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee and is in her first term as a state lawmaker.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793