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CMS Authorizes Permanent Telemental Health Coverage & More

CMS Authorizes Permanent Telemental Health Coverage & More

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that, effective January 1, 2022, telemental health from patients’ homes and use of audio-only telehealth will be permanently authorized beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Here are a few key points:

  • Edited: Definition of “interactive telecommunications system for telehealth services” to include audio-only technology when used for diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of mental health disorders under certain circumstances.
  • Added: The home of the beneficiary as a permissible site for telehealth services provided for the diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of a mental health disorder.
  • Clarified: Mental health services can include services for treatment of substance use disorders
  • Authorized: Audio-only counseling and therapy for treatment of substance use disorders and services provided through Opioid Treament Programs.
  • Covered: Audio-only counseling and therapy visits provided by rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers.
  • Not Eliminated: 6-month in-person prerequisite for telemental health services, though it does ease the the in-person requirement to within 12 months of receiving the telehealth (with exceptions).
  • Issued for comment: An interim final rule to maintain the payment amount for methadone at the CY 2021 rate for the duration of CY 2022.

More telemental health support is coming! In recognition of this topic’s continued importance, earlier this year the APNA Board of Directors created an APNA Telemental Health Task Force. Based on member feedback, the task force is charged with creating a categorized summation of key aspects of telemental health relevant to PMH nurses. This group is being finalized and will begin work soon. In the meantime, don’t forget that these resources are available to you!