Update: Tracking Telehealth Changes State by State in Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Update

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the United States, states, payers and providers are looking for ways to maintain expanded access to telehealth services. Telehealth is an essential tool in ensuring patients are able to access the health care services they need in as safe a manner as possible. In order to provide our clients with quick and actionable guidance on the evolving telehealth landscape, Manatt Health developed a federal and comprehensive 50-state tracker for policy, regulatory and legal changes related to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than one year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, states and federal agencies are now developing and implementing permanent telehealth policy changes to continue expanded coverage and reimbursement of telehealth services beyond the pandemic period. Because of this shift, the tracker’s executive summary includes the latest information related to permanent changes effectuated through state and federal guidance, regulations and legislation.

With so many key changes and developments happening over the past few weeks, we wanted to share the updated summary with you. The federal developments highlighted include:

  • On April 29, the Senate reintroduced for the fourth time, with support from 50 bipartisan senators, the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021, which:
    • Permanently removes the Medicare geographic restrictions and allows the home to be an originating site for mental telehealth services;
    • Removes the geographic and distant site restrictions for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics (RHCs);
    • Allows the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) secretary to waive telehealth restrictions; and
    • Encourages the CMS Innovation Center to test more payment models that include telehealth.
  • On April 28, Congress introduced two bills:
    • S.1309, which gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) the authority to issues waivers to allow payments for home health services furnished via visual or audio telecommunication systems during an emergency period; and
    • H.R.2903, which amends title XVIII of the Social Security Act to expand access to telehealth services. This is the House companion bill for the Senate’s CONNECT Act.
  • On April 22, the House re-introduced the PREVENT DIABETES Act, which enables Medicare coverage of connected health services in the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program.
  • On April 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the second round of COVID-19 Telehealth funding will open April 29. 
  • On April 12, the FDA lifted restrictions on telehealth abortions during the PHE.
  • On April 12, HHS announced the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program.
  • On April 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began accepting applications for the USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant Program (DLT).
  • S.620: KEEP Telehealth Options Act of 2021 was reintroduced March 9, 2021, and directs the secretary and the comptroller general of the United States to conduct studies and report to Congress on actions taken to expand access to telehealth services under the Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • H.R.2228: Rural Behavioral Health Access Act was introduced on March 26, 2021, and allows for payment of outpatient critical access hospital services furnished through telehealth under the Medicare program, including behavioral health services such as psychotherapy
  • The Rural Behavioral Health Access Act was introduced on March 26, 2021, and allows for payment of outpatient critical access hospital services furnished through telehealth under the Medicare program, including behavioral health services such as psychotherapy. The bill was not yet available at the time of publication

In addition, the summary covers new state-level telehealth policy developments in Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota and Texas—plus Washington, D.C.

Click here to view the new summary, highlighting the most recent telehealth-related developments, including updates to federal legislation, guidance and flexibilities, as well as the latest information on state laws, policies, executive orders and trends.

If you would like to learn more about the full 50-state telehealth tracker, please contact Jared Augenstein at jaugenstein@manatt.com.

NOTE: The complete 50-state telehealth tracker is available on Insights@ManattHealtha premium subscription service designed to help health care stakeholders keep up with the latest developments and benefit from in-depth analyses critical to their business. The content leverages Manatt Health’s legal and policy expertise in the Medicaid, Medicare, Marketplace, life sciences, litigation, digital health and privacy spaces and includes:

  • Manatt’s weekly memo, “Insights This Week”: a roundup of the week’s federal and state policy changes
  • Regulatory and guidance summaries: detailed summaries of Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace regulatory and subregulatory guidance, as well as synopses of health care litigation developments
  • 50-state surveys: deep dives of the latest trends in health care, including 1115 coverage waivers, 340B policies and telehealth 

For more information or a demo, please contact Catherine Rucci at crucci@manatt.com.

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