December 11, 2018 | Firm Announcements | 5 minute read
Director of Marketing Communications
Washington, DC (December 11, 2018) – Epstein Becker Green (“EBG”) today released its 2018 Telemental Health Laws survey (“2018 Survey”) in app form, its latest and most comprehensive and convenient update to state telehealth laws, regulations, and policies for mental and behavioral health practitioners and stakeholders across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 2018 data is an update to the firm’s original 50-State Survey of Telemental/Telebehavioral Health (“2016 Survey”) and its 2017 appendix.
Since EBG’s release of the 2016 Survey, the public’s and the health care industry’s recognition of the benefits of telehealth has continually increased. While the shortage of behavioral health providers has long been acknowledged, the use of telehealth technologies, including practice management systems and online patient portals, to provide greater access to behavioral health professionals has increasingly gained traction and continues to gain validation as an alternative model of care delivery.
Through efforts to compile the 2018 Survey, EBG also found that current events and issues, such as the opioid epidemic, have put more pressure than ever before on federal and state legislators to pass laws that promote access to, and provide guidance for, providers seeking to utilize telehealth services. These efforts will help to expand access to needed behavioral health treatment.
“Telehealth is a proactive solution for patients who need quality care from health care providers who may not be located close by or require real-time or after-hours care,” explained Amy Lerman, who spearheaded the survey for the third year and is a Member of EBG in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice. “As access to this method of care expands, it also opens the door for various subsets of medicine, including behavioral and telemental health. We are excited to find that it is still evolving, growing, and improving Americans’ quality of life, and we will continue to keep a pulse on the industry to ensure that we capitalize on telehealth opportunities while maintaining compliance with applicable laws.”
The 2018 Survey, which is also available for the first time, without charge, as an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, describes the following reasons for the increase of access to telemental health services, and telehealth services overall:
The 2018 Survey also details the following positive trends in telehealth adoption and usage models, including:
Despite such continued and significant positive action this year from legislators, there are several barriers and policy variances hindering the adoption of telehealth services that will continue to persist in 2019. These barriers and variances include:
While telehealth parity laws are currently in effect in 39 states and the District of Columbia and are intended to ensure the same coverage of (and in some cases, reimbursement for) telehealth services, there is more work ahead to achieve comprehensive coverage and access. States must continue to enact new parity laws or expand existing ones. There are already plans for progress in 2019—for example:
“I am expecting to see fast and growing adoption of telehealth within government managed care programs (Medicare Advantage, Medicaid Managed Care, and Medicare ACOs) in 2019 and beyond,” said Ross Friedberg, General Counsel of Doctor on Demand. “For health plans and health care provider organizations offering telemental services across states, EBG’s survey is a must-have resource. Although telehealth technologies remove geographical barriers to care, health care remains a locally regulated industry. Successfully navigating these differences in the law from state-to-state is critical to the success of any telehealth program.”
In addition to Ms. Lerman, EBG attorneys Daniel Kim, Francesca Ozinal, and James Tam; EBG Law Clerks – Admission Pending Audrey Davis and Matthew Sprankle; and EBG Summer Associates Alexis Boaz, Emily Budicin, Ashley Creech, and Bailey Wendzel contributed to the 2018 Survey.
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.