Law Firm Epstein Becker & Green Publish Telemental Health Laws Report

National law firm Epstein Becker & Green (EBG)  has released their updated 2022 Telemental Health Laws report. Since 2016, the legal practice has published its report annually. The report discusses the development of telemental health care, as well as the steps telehealth providers must take to adhere to telemental legal requirements. 

The latest report finds a substantial evolution of the telehealth industries as a result of increased regulatory flexibilities to promote telehealth use within the health sector. The survey’s emphasis on behavioral health careers draws attention to a continuing crisis in mental health and a sector that is in desperate need of qualified mental health service providers and resources. The Biden administration prioritized access to mental health services in 2022 after statistics showed a 25 percent rise in the prevalence of anxiety and depression around the world. This led to the $1.5 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, which expanded Medicare coverage for telemedicine procedures. State and municipal governments extended their policies to encourage the provision and coverage of these services and as a result, the number of mental health care services increased.

EBG also found a major increase in telehealth accessibility across states. The report identifies a number of measures that increased access to telehealth in 2022. The first is broader coverage under state Medicaid programs. While all state Medicaid programs offer coverage and compensation for some telehealth services, a significant move to encourage the use of telehealth services came when several state Medicaid programs made the COVID-19 temporary flexibility in coverage and reimbursement permanent. The second measure was interstate practice. According to the report, states have continued to evolve in relation to how healthcare providers can satisfy professional licensure criteria. In 2022, various types of providers are permitted to offer their services to patients in certain states, provided they have a valid license from their home state. The final measure identified by EBG was remote prescribing. EBG reports that states are removing the need for a provider to conduct an initial in-person examination and replacing it with a telehealth assessment as they continue to define and enhance the conditions under which doctors and certain other professionals can prescribe remotely.

For 2023, EBG expects the telehealth industry to continue to expand. As a result, federal and state lawmakers will be required to choose which telehealth waivers will remain in place following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. They contend that legislators should pay particular attention to coding and billing for telehealth services and compliance to telehealth rules and regulations.