Important News & Information for NYS Council Members

August 2, 2023

New York State Department of Health Announces Medicaid Telehealth Coverage Extended Beyond COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Telehealth Medicaid Coverage to Continue Through 2024


More Than 80 Percent of New Yorkers Surveyed Used Telehealth During Past Two Years

Nearly Half of Telehealth Users Report Using Therapy to Treat Mental Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health announced that New York State Medicaid will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of telehealth through Dec. 31, 2024. Telehealth services – the use of electronic information and communication technologies to deliver health care to patients at a distance – expanded dramatically during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), which ended last spring. 

“Telehealth services were expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent exposure to the virus, but we quickly saw an increase in demand and telehealth became a preferred method of care for many New Yorkers,” New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. McDonald said. “With recent changes to federal health care regulations, these telehealth services will continue to be covered for New Yorkers enrolled in Medicaid through the end of next year.”

In New York State, telehealth has become a widely accepted alternative to in-person care for Medicaid members. Medicaid requires providers to offer in-person care, with the option of adding telehealth to their practice if it is within the scope and appropriate for their services, so that patients can choose between the two modes of care. 

“The pandemic magnified the potential of telehealth services in addressing gaps in service delivery that contribute to underlying health disparities for many vulnerable New Yorkers,” New York State Medicaid Director Amir Bassiri said.“Medicaid’s telehealth coverage during the public health emergency enabled flexibility and improved access to care, especially for behavioral and mental health services, for individuals and providers in medically underserved communities in New York. Maintaining these flexibilities and expanding access to medically appropriate telehealth services is a critical strategy to our goal of advancing health equity for all New Yorkers.”

Prior to the public health emergency, Medicaid covered some telehealth services, including audio-visual, store-and-forward, and remote patient monitoring at certain facilities. During the PHE, this list was expanded to include over-the-phone care.

Following the PHE, Medicaid has added virtual patient education and virtual check-in and anticipates including eConsults in the future. Medicaid also expanded the eligible providers who can offer telehealth services.

Before the PHE, only 25 types of Medicaid providers were eligible to be reimbursed for services offered via telehealth, including some clinics and facilities. Telehealth is now authorized for all Medicaid providers employed by Medicaid facilities if telehealth services are within a provider’s scope of practice and an appropriate option for the required care.

The federal government required New York’s Medicaid program to update certain post-PHE regulations to protect patient safety and security. All telehealth applications must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) may limit virtual prescriptions of certain controlled substances in the future, but the final decision on that has been postponed until November.

When used appropriately, telehealth can improve consumer health, reduce provider costs, and make access to care more equitable, particularly for medically underserved communities. Last year, the state Medicaid program conducted a survey about telehealth preferences that found a vast majority of New Yorkers had used telehealth during the past two years.

The primary benefits of telehealth include lowered travel time and costs, user-friendly applications or software, lowered anxiety sharing information, and additional privacy with no waiting room or other consumers.  (7/23)

Coming up on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom 

Today at 11:00

Dr. Jim McDonald, commissioner of the state Department of Health, discusses the path to becoming New York’s top doctor, the importance of harm reduction in combating the opioid epidemic and rebuilding the state’s public health capacity.

You can stream this radio show live at 11:00 a.m.  or anytime online.  Use this link:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Dan Goldman and Rep. Jerry Nadler yesterday touted legislation aimed at strengthening access to medical care for people living with serious mental illnesses, State of Politics reports.

—————————–FYI:  News from Senator Schumer

Last week the Senate passed the Fend Off Fentanyl Act as part of the Defense Authorization Bill. It gives the president emergency powers, including the ability to institute economic sanctions on countries like China and Mexico to stop the flow of the drug before it reaches the United States, including rural areas of our state.  Last week, Senator Schumer made an appearance in Albion (WNY) where he urged the House to pass the bill.


A program in New Jersey that pairs mental health workers with police officers is now up and running in Newark, the state’s largest city. The ARRIVE Together program assigns plainclothes cops and mental health workers to ride around together in unmarked patrol cars, responding to 911 calls when mental health issues are involved (Gothamist)


(Use the link embedded below for specific information on this new requirement)

From today’s Politico Pro:  Effective Tuesday, dealmakers who ink major transactions involving physician practices, management service organizations, provider-sponsored organizations, health insurance plans and other health entities will have to give the state at least 30 days’ notice.  The new disclosure rule applies to deals that would result in a health care entity increasing its total gross in-state revenues by at least $25 million. In those cases, the state will require a copy of the definitive agreement governing the transaction, a description of the transaction’s purpose and disclosure of any plans to slash services, among other information.

The Health Department must then publicly post a summary of the proposed transaction, an explanation of who will be affected and information on any services being cut.

Scofflaws will be subject to a maximum penalty of $2,000 per violation per day.

The law will increase transparency around significant health care mergers and acquisitions — but, notably, it doesn’t give the Health Department any new regulatory authority.

A prior version of the policy would’ve done just that, as the consulting firm Manatt notes.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget this year pitched a proposal to subject so-called material transactions involving certain health care entities to regulatory review and approval by the Health Department, akin to the certificate-of-need process.

By the time the policy made it into the enacted budget, it had been significantly watered down to require only advance notice.

Hochul’s office did not respond to a request for comment on why the changes were made.