On March 2, the Health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on “The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care.” Prior to the hearing, APA submitted written testimony for the committee’s consideration (PDF, 287KB). APA’s testimony summarizes the heightened need for expanded mental and behavioral health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting its disproportionate impact on communities of color. APA’s testimony also emphasizes the utility of telehealth to address long-standing disparities in access to mental and behavioral health services and urges Congress to take several steps to build upon these successes, including:
- permanently allowing Medicare to continue reimbursement for routine mental and behavioral health treatment via audio-only telehealth;
- require all payers, including ERISA self-insured plans, to cover and reimburse for tele-behavioral health services at parity with services furnished via face-to-face visits; and
- avoid imposing in-person service requirements that “inequitably limit access to care.”
APA’s written testimony echoes and builds upon many of the points raised by the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG) in its testimony (PDF, 178KB), in particular around telehealth as a strategy to help improve health equity. The MHLG is a coalition of over 70 national mental health organizations; APA is among its leading organizations.