Several Telehealth Waivers Expiring:
At the end of June, both New York’s and Florida’s COVID-19 telehealth waivers COVID-19 expired. The subsequent guidance provided by the states differs significantly. While New York currently still allows Medicaid to cover telehealth services during COVID-19, Florida has retracted the waivers completely. In other words, Florida is no longer allowing practitioners who are not licensed in Florida to practice medicine in their state. These changes will greatly impact those practicing in Florida and other similar states where waivers have already expired or will be expiring soon.
As the waivers begin to expire, the question of payment parity comes to the forefront of the discussion. During COVID-19, several states allowed telehealth visits to be charged at the same price as an in-person visit. Some states have begun making this a permanent practice knowing that telehealth is here to stay; however, others have begun to revert to pre-COVID-19 reimbursement practices. These reversions will likely face pushback from practitioners and telehealth organizations, among other healthcare providers, and may provide the impetus for needed changes in the near future.
On the Federal level, the Telemental Healthcare Access Act of 2021 was introduced to Congress on June 15th. This bill, if passed, would remove the requirement that individuals who are on Medicare and being treated for mental health issues via telehealth be seen in person within six months. The removal of this requirement would make telemental healthcare more accessible. The past year has certainly changed how individuals, communities, and healthcare providers view mental health and access to treatment; consequently, this expansion of access to care would benefit those requiring intensive or ongoing mental health services.
For more information on the various updates, visit the following resources: