Medicare recipients getting access to telemedicine at no extra cost

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During the outbreak of COVID-19, the Trump Administration has expanded options and allowed those enrolled in Medicare to speak with a doctor by phone or video chat at no extra cost.

News4Jax spoke with a nurse practitioner at UF Health, where she is doing her part in helping the community.

“Right now we’re at probably 70% of our patient population is telemedicine-ready and can get it. By the end of April, we’ll probably be at 90%,” said Tracie Rutledge, a certified family nurse practitioner.

The in-person healthcare that’s now being conducted virtually is adding safety for both patients and health experts.

“It definitely is a means to decrease transmission in the event someone’s been exposed and doesn’t know,” Rutledge said.

While testing like this is happening at two different sites in Jacksonville and other locations in Northeast Florida, doctors and nurse practitioners like Rutledge are spending more time over the phone or computer screen.

Rutledge estimates the numbers of telemedicine visits for her have tripled, but it doesn’t eliminate in-person care.

There are some patients who, if we need to see them, we get in our personal protective equipment. We meet them in the parking lot," she said.

The FDA has allowed veterinarians to use telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic. Rules typically require vets to physically examine pets, but now they are able to prescribe drugs with a video exam.

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