November 15, 2022 | Firm Announcements | 4 minute read
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Washington, DC – November 15, 2022 – Epstein Becker Green (EBG) today released its 2022 updates to the Telemental Health Laws survey.
The 2022 updates report a significant evolution of the telemental health and telehealth industries, including increased regulatory flexibilities that promote increased use of telehealth. The survey’s complete findings are available for download via an app. See also the executive summary of this year’s findings.
The survey’s focus on behavioral health professions highlights an ongoing mental health crisis and an industry in dire need of qualified mental health services and resources. In 2022, reports of a 25 percent increase in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression pushed the Biden administration to prioritize access to mental health services, including the $1.5 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, which extended Medicare coverage related to telemedicine practices. As a result, mental health care services multiplied as state and local legislatures expanded policies to support the provision and coverage of these services.
As within many areas of health care, however, expansion and innovation contributed to a higher risk of fraud and resulted in an increase in enforcement activity. Telemental health providers were not immune to this activity in 2022, and providers should prioritize regulatory compliance as the industry looks ahead to 2023.
“As legislators began to address regulations heavily impacted by COVID-19, the United States also faced the demand for more accessible mental health services,” explained Amy Lerman, a Member of the Firm in EBG’s Health Care and Life Sciences practice. “The heightened importance of telemental health services calls for more flexibility and expanded access. That call was answered in 2022, and now the industry must ensure that services maintain quality and compliance for real change to occur.”
Below are more details on industry progress:
While physicians continue to use telemedicine and telehealth services in their practices, 2022 brought continued regulatory updates in many states that promote flexibility and access to telehealth technology for use by other mental and behavioral health professionals, such as psychologists, social workers, and counselors. These are some measures of increased accessibility in 2022:
As telemental health services have seen unprecedented demand, states and federal lawmakers are addressing the increased risk of fraudulent schemes. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) continued to build on previous activity. Notable actions and reporting include the following:
As the telemental health services industry continues to expand, federal and state legislators must decide which of the flexibilities granted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should become permanent. In 2023, it will remain critical for telehealth providers to monitor developments in federal and state laws, regulations, and policies while making investments in compliance. Here are some key areas on which providers should focus:
The Telemental Health Laws survey is authored by Amy Lerman and Audrey Davis, with support from Jenna Horowitz, Erin Sutton, Christopher Taylor, and Bailey Wendzel. EBG Law Clerk Jack Ferdman and the following 2022 EBG Summer Associates provided research and drafting support: Nija Chappel, Madeline Dwivedi, Annie Lucatuorto, Diego Perea, Ada Peters, and Kyla Portnoy.
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., is a national law firm with a primary focus on health care and life sciences; employment, labor, and workforce management; and litigation and business disputes. Founded in 1973 as an industry-focused firm, Epstein Becker Green has decades of experience serving clients in health care, financial services, retail, hospitality, and technology, among other industries, representing entities from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Operating in locations throughout the United States and supporting domestic and multinational clients, the firm’s attorneys are committed to uncompromising client service and legal excellence. For more information, visit www.ebglaw.com.
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