Epstein Becker Green’s Telemental Health Laws Survey Featured in “Congress to Try Again on Medicare Coverage for Telemental Health”

mHealthIntelligence

Epstein Becker Green’s 2018 Telemental Health Laws survey was featured in mHealthIntelligence, in “Congress to Try Again on Medicare Coverage for Telemental Health,” by Eric Wicklund.

Following is an excerpt:

Congress is taking another stab at legislation that would expand telehealth access for Medicare beneficiaries seeking mental health services at home.

The Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act (HR 1301), reintroduced last month by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Tom Reed (R-NY), would include the patient’s home in the list of originating sites for telehealth, thus enabling providers to be reimbursed through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for home-based telemental health.

The bill, which failed to make it through Congress last year, does include one caveat: It requires that the provider and patient have an in-person meeting before using telehealth. …

The bill is the latest in a national effort to increase access to mental health services via telehealth and telemedicine. Several states, including Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, are considering or have enacted new guidelines aimed to boost coverage and access.

Telemental health was also on the minds of analysts at Epstein Becker & Green. The national law firm released a report in December 2018 that took note of state efforts to expand telehealth coverage for mental health services while also bemoaning a lack of reimbursement options for providers.

“Despite Medicaid’s fewer restrictions on telehealth coverage as compared to its Medicare counterpart, there is limited federal guidance or information regarding the implementation of telehealth services in state Medicaid programs or coverage parameters for states choosing to offer such services,” the attorneys noted in a press release. “Healthcare practitioners who treat Medicaid populations are at risk for steep penalties for noncompliance, including fines and the potential loss of their professional licenses.”

“(P)ublic recognition of the benefits of utilizing telehealth technology to provide greater access to healthcare services has significantly increased,” they pointed out in an overview of the report. “While the shortage of behavioral health providers has long been acknowledged, the growing use of telehealth technologies as a strategy to increase access to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, therapists and other behavioral health professionals continues to gain attention and validation as an alternative model of care delivery.”