Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) introduced their bipartisan bill, the Rural Behavioral Health Access Act. This legislation would ensure critical access hospitals (CAH) retain crucial flexibility to provide behavioral health services through telehealth after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress acted rapidly to expand access to telehealth during the pandemic, but behavioral health challenges in rural areas will continue long after COVID-19 recedes. As more Medicare patients seek care from home and behavioral health demands in rural areas increase, it is critical that CAHs can utilize and bill for telehealth services.
Key provisions of the Rural Behavioral Health Access Act Include:
- Allowing Medicare to provide payment for outpatient CAH services consisting of behavioral therapy when the individual is not located at the hospital.
- Allowing the initiation of a new patient relationship via telehealth, but only when a plan of care has been established that includes in-person care.
- Allowing the provision of behavioral therapy services through an audio-only interaction, but only if audio-visual capability is not available.
View NRHA's press release for more information and quotes regarding this important legislation.