Home care telehealth supervision bill from House passes Senate committee, despite last-minute objections by agency

After sailing through the House without opposition, a bill dealing with telehealth supervision for home care hit a snag in the Senate Education and Health Subcommittee on Health Tuesday afternoon. Kimberly Beazley, deputy director of the Virginia Department of Health Office of Licensure and Certification, spoke out against the bill citing more than 58% of the complaints against home care organizations in 2020 and 25% in 2021 centered on lack of supervision.

 

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The bill, HB 1831, was ultimately voted out of committee 4-1, but not before terse words were spoken.

Beazley’s comments, which had not been brought up in any of the previous House hearings on the bill, angered the bill’s sponsor Del. Chris Head.

 

Del. Chris Head

 

“I am candidly not only dismayed and irritated by what you’ve just been given by Ms. Beazley, but it’s is the most blatantly misrepresenting statement I have ever heard in my decade in the General Assembly.”

The bill in question seeks to codify existing practice which allows the supervision of home care by a licensed nurse through the use of telehealth. The method is existing practice.

Eleven years ago, the very office that spoke out against this change in code had issued a memo allowing for this practice, according to Marcia Tetterton, executive director of the Virginia Association for Home Care and Hospice.

“We’ve been working with the department for over 15 years. There has been no issues doing telehealth. We aren’t asking for anything that hasn’t been done. We have asked on a number of occasions that this language be updated. We went to Del. Head to move this issue forward. There is no harm here.”

Head emphasized that the bill is current practice.

“What the [Office of Licensure and Certification] can’t get through their heads is that there is a difference between skilled care and nonskilled care. This is existing practice. It’s absolutely maddening for this agency remain silent all the way through and contact my office with a lackluster offer and not show up for any of the hearings.”