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Telecommute to your doctor's office? Bill would make insurance cover it

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With doctors and patients making more use of "telemedicine," some Minnesota lawmakers say insurance companies should be required to cover appointments that occur over a computer connection.

A bill making that coverage mandatory for health insurance providers was introduced at the State Capitol Wednesday.

Supporters say telemedicine is especially important in rural areas, where medical specialists are scarce.

Sen. Carla Nelson, a Rochester Republican, tells KIMT-TV the law needs to keep up with technology.

Sen. Julie Rosen, a Republican from Vernon Center, tells Senate Media Services insurance companies have been inconsistent in their coverage of telemedicine.

FOX 9 says the legislation introduced Wednesday has bipartisan support at the Capitol.

FOX illustrated telemedicine by showing a Mayo Clinic video of a neurologist using a computer videocam to examine a concussion patient.

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Apart from access to specialists, supporters of telemedicine say it also saves money.

FOX says a Mayo study found patients treated through their telestroke network saved about $1,400 and lived longer.

The Mankato Free Press spoke with a family in that city who regularly drive their child to a sleep doctor in St. Paul but could likely keep those appointments through a computer at a Mankato clinic if insurance uncertainty was resolved.

Hennepin County Medical Center's CEO, Dr. Jon Pryor, says 90 percent of what a doctor learns while seeing a patient in an office can also be gleaned through a TV screen, the Free Press reports.

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