Congress Targets Telehealth Coverage for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment
Several bills on Capitol Hill aim to expand telehealth coverage for mental health and substance abuse services delivered via telehealth, including efforts to reduce barriers to prescribing scheduled drugs.
– Congress will be taking a serious look at expanding telehealth coverage for mental health and substance abuse services this year.
Last week Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) introduced S 660, which would require private health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder services regardless of whether they’re provided in person or via telehealth.
The bill’s exact text wasn’t yet available, but it aims to level the playing field for an expanding number of healthcare providers who are using connected health platforms to deliver mental health and substance abuse services.
It comes on the heels of the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act, which was introduced in the Senate last month and in the House last week after failing to make it through Congress last year.
The TREATS Act would eliminate the in-person exam requirement and allow care providers to prescribe certain controlled substances via telehealth in Medicated Assistant Treatment (MAT) therapy programs, as well as expand Medicare coverage for mHealth services to include audio-only phone calls. It has plenty of backers, including the American Society for Addiction Medicine, National Safety Council, Community Catalyst, Boston Medical Center, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, Shatterproof and The Kennedy Forum.
Author: Eric Wicklund
Posted online 3/15/2021