May 19, 2024 10:27 pm
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Bill Would Add Telehealth Services for Inmates

Credit; iStock

by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin

When inmates need specialized treatment for complex mental health needs like gender dysphoria and delusional disorders or forensic risk evaluations, the choices are often limited and expensive: transport an inmate out of state to a specialist or bring the specialist to New Hampshire.

Those hurdles would be eliminated by a bill that would allow the Department of Corrections to use telehealth for some appointments. Senate Bill 126 passed in the Senate in February and in the House last week. If the governor signs it, physicians and physician assistants could treat inmates by telehealth without a New Hampshire license as long as they were licensed and in good standing in another state.

Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks told lawmakers that the department does not intend to replace all medical treatment with telehealth. It would be used for specialized providers like psychiatrists who are certified in forensics. She told senators that of the 68,000 people certified in psychiatry, only about 2,600 have a forensic certification.

Corrections spokesperson Jane Graham said the department’s contracted medical services provider has specialists that currently can’t treat inmates here because they lack a New Hampshire license. The bill would allow the department to use those specialists without additional treatment costs because their services are already included in the contract.

This story was written by Annmarie Timmins, senior reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.

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