Bill Addresses Telemental Care

Senators Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have introduced the bipartisan Telemental Health Care Access Act of 2021 to remove barriers to telemental health services for Medicare beneficiaries.

The legislation would remove the statutory requirement that Medicare beneficiaries be seen in person within six months of being treated for mental health services through telehealth. Last year’s package permanently expanded access for Medicare patients to be treated in their home and other sites for mental services. The Telemental Health Care Act of 2021 eliminates this in-person requirement so that patients can directly access mental health services via telehealth.

“Over the pandemic, we’ve seen an increased need for telehealth services whether it’s for SUDs, physical ailments, or mental health issues. Medicare patients deserve direct access to telemental health services and this bill removes barriers to make this possible,” said Dr. Cassidy.

Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, ATA, said, “The Telemental Health Care Access Act is a critical piece of legislation that would repeal the telemental health in-person requirement. ATA has published a new brief on in-person requirement for telehealth, detailing the barriers to care created that are contrary to clinical consensus, exacerbate provider shortages, worsens health inequities, and unnecessarily preempts state laws.”

To read the bill, go to https://Cassidy.senate.gov/imp/media/doc/KEL21748.pdf.

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