MH: Medicare and Telehealth

May 27, 2022

It is our understanding that the current Medicare requirement that (generally) a (Medicare) beneficiary must be seen in person at least once every 6 months in order to continue to receive mental health tele health services would become effective 180 days AFTER the end of the (federal) Public Health Emergency.  

The bill (discussed below) would eliminate that requirement entirely. 

For more specific information related to the current requirement on the books, use this link below, and see the article (at bottom) from Modern Healthcare.

Senate finance leaders propose bill to expand telehealth for mental healthcare


A bipartisan group of Senate Finance Committee leaders on Thursday proposed expanding telehealth access for mental health services.

The committee issued a discussion draft that pushes to eliminate Medicare’s in-person visit requirement prior to patients seeking online mental health services. This requirement has not gone into effect due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. But when the emergency ends, it would limit older adults’ ability to access virtual care.

Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) released the draft urging stronger legislative action.Telehealth services proved to be a “game-changer” during the pandemic, Wyden said in a news release.

Despite increased access to care through telehealth, the pandemic has taken a toll on Americans’ physical and mental health. Nearly one in five adults, or 53 million Americans, reported living with a mental illness in 2020, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Even as patients return to other in-person appointments, virtual behavioral health sessions continue to be in demand more than two years after the pandemic shutdown.

“Telehealth, particularly for behavioral health services, has become an essential component of care,” Cardin said in a news release.–