Two U.S. lawmakers reintroduced legislation to make telemental health services more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries. The bill would remove the requirement that beneficiaries see doctors in person within six months of virtual treatment for mental concerns. The bill has been endorsed by leading industry groups and comes at a time when there is a growing debate about the future of telehealth.
Two senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee reintroduced legislation to support telemental health services by eliminating barriers for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Telemental Health Care Access Act, introduced by Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), would remove the requirement that Medicare beneficiaries see doctors in person within six months of virtual treatment for mental concerns. This would allow patients to access telehealth fully.
“The pandemic forced the nation to capitalize on the benefits of virtual care, and its positive impact was crystal clear for telemental health care,” said Matsui in a press release. “The option of telehealth makes it easier for patients to pick up the phone, follow through on their appointments, and seek care sooner.”
“That’s why we need to continue to remove arbitrary barriers like the in-person requirement that restrict access to telemental health services,” Matsui continued. “We have far more than just a foundation for telehealth now – we have a nation relying on these services. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to help make this access permanent.”
The bill has been endorsed by leading industry groups like the Alliance for Connected Care, the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), the American Counseling Association (ACA), and many others.
The legislation comes at a time when there is a growing debate about the future of telehealth. Some experts argue that the pandemic-era flexibilities that expanded patient access to care should be made permanent, while others believe that it is time to return to pre-pandemic normal.
The Telemental Health Care Access Act is a significant step in the effort to make telemental health services more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries. If passed, the bill would help to ensure that patients have the option of receiving mental health care from the comfort of their own homes.