Good news from CMS. Yesterday CMS announced the first group of many rules regarding the Physician Fee Schedule, which CSWA, and many of you, our members, commented on in August. Our voices made a difference. CMS will extend coverage of telemental health and audio only psychotherapy indefinitely. This was a major goal of ours and CSWA is delighted.
Now we need more clarity on eliminating the need to see patients in person every six months and the payment schedule for LCSWs in 2022. CSWA will continue to provide information on these issues as it is available.
Here is the statement issued by CMS (key statements in yellow outline). For the original document, go to firstname.lastname@example.org :
Expanding Use of Telehealth and Other Telecommunications Technologies for Behavioral Health Care
The final rule makes significant strides in expanding access to behavioral health care – especially for traditionally underserved communities – by harnessing telehealth and other telecommunications technologies. In line with legislation enacted last year, CMS is eliminating geographic barriers and allowing patients in their homes to access telehealth services for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of mental health disorders.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gaps in our current health care system and the need for new solutions to bring treatments to patients, wherever they are,” said Brooks-LaSure. “This is especially true for people who need behavioral health services, and the improvements we are enacting will give people greater access to telehealth and other care delivery options.”
CMS is bringing care directly into patients’ homes by providing certain mental and behavioral health services via audio-only telephone calls. This means counseling and therapy services, including treatment of substance use disorders and services provided through Opioid Treatment Programs, will be more readily available to individuals, especially in areas with poor broadband infrastructure.
In addition, for the first time outside of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), Medicare will pay for mental health visits furnished by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers via telecommunications technology, including audio-only telephone calls, expanding access for rural and other vulnerable populations.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this effort. Let me know if you have any questions.
Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice Clinical Social Work Association email@example.com
PO Box 105Granville, Ohio 43023