telehealth behavioral healthTelehealth Behavioral Health Guidance

Before the coronavirus pandemic, there was skepticism surrounding the use of telehealth as a viable treatment option. There were strict regulations on telehealth services, leading to low utilization of telehealth. However, the coronavirus pandemic caused federal and state regulations on the use of telehealth to be loosened. One area in which telehealth use has skyrocketed is behavioral health. Telehealth behavioral health state guidance is discussed below.

State Issued Guidance

Several states have issued guidance on the use of telehealth behavioral health. This guidance is meant to increase access to telebehavioral health for diagnostic evaluations, medication-assisted treatment, and psychotherapy.
Notable state issued guidance is as follows:

  • California: requires commercial health insurance companies to increase access to telehealth. This includes reimbursement for mental health and substance use disorder services that are equivalent to payment rates for an in-person visit.
  • Connecticut: Medicaid patients must receive telehealth treatment at Medicaid-enrolled originating sites for some behavioral health services. This includes psychiatric diagnostic and opioid programs. However, for family therapy, psychotherapy with medication management, and individual therapy, there is no originating site requirement.
  • Louisiana: has loosened restrictions for telehealth sessions. Previously, the use of telehealth for occupational therapy was restricted to video telecommunications platforms. They have since increased access to telehealth by allowing the use of audio-only telehealth tools.
  • Maryland: Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth services at residential treatment centers treating substance use disorder is available until the end of the coronavirus emergency.
  • North Carolina: Medicaid has expanded telehealth coverage for smoking and tobacco cessation counseling, postpartum depression screenings, behavioral health, and occupational therapy.
  • Pennsylvania: allows Medicaid beneficiaries to receive telehealth treatment through FFS and Behavioral Health MCOs.