RD708 - Determining the Feasibility of Establishing a Medical Excellence Zone Program

Executive Summary:

The 2020 Acts of Assembly (SB757/HB1701) requires the Department of Health to determine the feasibility of the establishment of a Medical Excellence Zone Program. It further requires the Department of Health Professions to pursue reciprocal agreements with states contiguous with the Commonwealth for licensure for certain primary care practitioners under the Board of Medicine. A Medical Excellence Zone would allow citizens of the Commonwealth living in rural underserved areas to receive medical treatment via telemedicine services as defined in § 38.2-3418.16 of the Code of Virginia. The Department of Health is to set out criteria for the designation to include that any locality or group of localities in the Commonwealth must demonstrate economic disadvantage to qualify for eligibility. The Board of Medicine and the Department of Health Professions are submitting their own reports to the General Assembly on the reciprocal agreements with contiguous states and their recommendations.

The Virginia Department of Health, Office of Health Equity (VDH-OHE) determined it is feasible to establish a Medical Excellence Zone Program using criteria based on methods the office applies to establish Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The suggested criteria recommend data sets used by federal and state governments to identify an area as rural and/or underserved and economically disadvantaged. Stakeholders drafting the state telehealth plan reviewed the proposed criteria in a discussion facilitated by the VDH-OHE and William Harp, MD from the Virginia Board of Medicine. The majority of the questions were about the reciprocal agreements and not the zone criteria.