Respective Bills Enhance States’ Telehealth Framework for Patients and Clinicians While Ensuring Fair Reimbursement of Services
Mount Laurel, NJ – January 3, 2022 – Array Behavioral Care, the nation’s largest virtual psychiatry practice and a thought leader in modern behavioral care, commends New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and state representatives for passing two bills in December that extend telehealth coverage in their states. The bills expand access to telehealth for both patients and providers through payment parity provisions, modality expansions, and inclusion of a wider variety of clinicians who can bill payers for telehealth services.
“We commend Governor Murphy and Governor DeWine for leading the charge in extending telehealth laws beyond the temporary federal policies, validating telehealth as a permanent fixture in healthcare,” said Array Behavioral Care CEO Geoffrey Boyce. “With both of these bills in place, patients and clinicians can continue to leverage telehealth even after the temporary public health emergency allowances disappear.”
The passage of New Jersey S-2559 extends payment parity for telehealth services through December 31, 2023, requiring healthcare payers to reimburse providers for telehealth services at the same rates as in-person services. The bill also includes a contingency that rigorous studies be conducted throughout the two-year expansion to inform a longer-term approach to reimbursement of telehealth. The signed legislation comes after months of continued advocacy and dialogue, including a letter to the governor co-authored by Geoffrey Boyce and Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).
Ohio House Bill 122, known as the Telemedicine Expansion Act, benefits patients by barring healthcare payers from denying coverage of telehealth services or charging higher out-of-pocket costs for online services. Most notably, the Ohio bill also expands access for clinicians by including more categories of clinicians and provider sites in coverage, such as pharmacists, school psychologists, outpatient hospitals, and ambulatory clinics.
“The top motivation cited in these bills and statements from officials is telehealth has provided a greater ease of access to care, especially in underserved communities,” added Boyce. “That’s what telehealth does — allow more people to get the care they need, no matter where they are. Elected officials in New Jersey and Ohio have assured their constituents that the telehealth services which have been a lifeline for so many during the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in place for years to come.”
Both the New Jersey and Ohio bills expand modalities of care that can be reimbursed. The New Jersey bill specifies that audio-only behavioral health care be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person appointments. Additionally, the Ohio Telemedicine Expansion Act establishes that asynchronous care, such as text or chat, must be covered by insurance. Numerous psychology studies demonstrate the effectiveness of telebehavioral care, including data showing that audio-only care reduces depression symptoms.
“Faced with no other choice for medical care amid lockdowns and the ongoing pandemic, patients and clinicians have turned to telehealth to stay in contact and found that it works,” said Boyce. “In many specialties, the data show that the quality of care is maintained via telehealth with added benefits of lower overall costs and greater convenience than in-person care. Since telehealth can maintain quality, or even increase it, while reducing spend and improving the care experience, it must be permanently accessible through insurance coverage, just like any other appointment.”
Boyce, an advocate for telemedicine access, education and reform, recently spoke on Capitol Hill to advocate for the TREATS Act, Senate Bill 340, in light of the state of emergency in children’s mental health declared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. He serves on the advisory board for the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC), is a recipient of the American Telemedicine Association’s Industry Leader Award, was appointed to New Jersey Telehealth Review Commission, and participates in several ATA Special Interest Groups and Workgroups.
Array Behavioral Care is the leading and largest virtual psychiatry practice in the country with a mission to transform access to quality, timely behavioral healthcare. Array is also the exclusive national telebehavioral partner to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Behavioral Health. Array offers telepsychiatry solutions and services across the continuum of care, from hospital to home, through its OnDemand, Scheduled, and AtHome divisions. For more than 20 years, Array has partnered with hundreds of hospitals and health systems, community healthcare organizations, and payers of all sizes to expand access to care and improve outcomes for underserved individuals, facilities, and communities. As an industry pioneer and established thought leader, Array has helped shape the field, define the standard of care, and advocate for improved telepsychiatry-friendly regulations. To learn more, visit www.arraybc.com.
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