Notes from 6/25 Call w/ OMH & OASAS
re: end of State of Emergency – Updated

June 27, 2021

Below are notes from the June 25 call with OMH and OASAS. These notes are subject to refinement and amendment as the details keep coming:

By and large, the billing and documentation waivers and modifications/flexibilities as well as the telehealth flexibilities that we have been operating under during the emergency COVID period will remain in place despite the end of the (NYS) State of Emergency.  They will continue for the remainder of the federal emergency or until permanent regulations on the specific topic / area is adopted.  

OMH has yet to get their first guidance document out although it was promised for this morning, however, this morning we did send you the new one page OMH Waiver document (looks like a proclamation) signed by OMH Commissioner Anne Sullivan.   Apparently, OASAS Commissioner Gonzalez-Sanchez signed a similar document governing the OASAS Waiver although I haven’t seen it yet.  Both state agencies will be issuing additional guidance docs over the next several weeks.  (Yesterday, we sent you the first one from OASAS.)

DoH is expected to release an Emergency Regulation any moment now regarding waivers and modifications pertaining to telehealth, to include audio-only.  During the call April Hamilton from DoH stated that what’s coming is non-controversial and largely reiterates what OMH and OASAS have said about their own status as largely unchanged.  April confirmed that for programs like CFTSS and HCBS, unlicensed practitioners who have up until now been permitted to offer telehealth services during the COVID crisis, can continue to do so.  We’ll see shortly whether the DoH Emergency Reg goes further and attempts to install and ‘guardrails’ for the use of telehealth post State of Emergency.

All of the most recent social distancing and infection control guidance docs issued by DoH, OMH and OASAS remain in effect for all OASAS and OMH programs and services.

COVID waivers for prevention and recovery programs and services all remain in effect.

Medicaid Managed Care plans MUST continue to cover all telehealth modalities including telephonic or audio-only.  On the commercial side (regulated by DFS) it is our understanding based on information from the Department that health plans must continue to pay for audio only services until July 5 at 11:59 p.m.  We have been and will continue to advocate for a continuation of this requirement.  

Individuals with NYS-based Medicaid insurance (including MMC) who have left the state on a temporary basis can continue to receive telehealth services while in another state.  But if residency changes, or time out of state is prolonged, he/she cannot continue to receive these services.

The state agencies will have the option to extend the 60 day waivers now in place if they need more time to put permanent regulations in place.

You can continue to obtain oral consent for telehealth services, for at least the next 60 days. 

All flexibilities provided during COVID 19 pertaining to treatment planning timeframes and treatment plan renewals remain in place for at least the next 60 days. 

All billing flexibilities and changes in duration for OMH Clinic, ACT, Adult Day Treatment etc. including rounding and all minimum time frames continue for at least 60 days.    

Audio-only remains available via Health Home+, ACT, PROS.  

There are of course exceptions to all this potentially good news about most things being ‘status quo’ for the moment:

  1. Background Checks – For both OASAS and OMH programs subject to Background Check laws, the waiver that allowed for a modified or abbreviated background checks process during COVID for new and existing staff is discontinued as of today (6/25).  If you have been granted an abbreviated background check process for a particular employee during the COVID emergency, note that he/she must complete the background check process ASAP, but no later than 8/25.  That staff can continue to work for you (if appropriately supervised) until 9/5.   After today, any new hire must go through the pre-COVID background check process required for his/her job title.
  2. Prior flexibilities that were in place during COVID 19 relating to Incident Reporting in NYMRS are ended as of today, 6/25.  Must return to pre-COVID required reporting.
  3. Any previous flexibilities or waivers pertaining to physician orders for restraint and seclusion are returned to pre-COVID status as of today, 6/25.