During this unprecedented time in our country, many people have turned to telehealth services to receive the treatment they need. Walden is proud to be among the providers who made that switch from in-person treatment to virtual treatment in order to continue providing support for the people who need us. The Massachusetts State Senate is debating a bill today to continue to keep telehealth as an option for medical and mental health treatment beyond the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Please consider helping to support this bill.
For more information about the impact of telehealth in Massachusetts and why this bill is so important, please read the op-ed in Commonwealth Magazine by State Senators Karen Spilka and Cindy Friedman.
Telehealth has the ability to expand access to care, enable faster diagnoses and treatments, improve the efficiency of care, and reduce patient stress. Telehealth is effective now and it will be effective long after a vaccine is developed to treat COVID-19, but there is no time like the present to ensure that telehealth continues to be widely utilized by patients throughout the Commonwealth.
The S.2769 bill or An Act Putting Patients First includes important provisions regarding telehealth services for behavioral health needs.
The below is the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health describing each of the three amendments at length and providing an email template to send to your state senator.
This bill contains important provisions to extend access to tele-behavioral health beyond the COVID-19 State of Emergency. We urge you to contact your Senator to indicate your support for S.2769 and the following amendments:
Amendment #2: Step Therapy (Sen. Cyr)
Step therapy is a protocol that requires specific medications be prescribed in a particular order, even when the individual and their provider know that another medication is more suited to their situation. This can be especially devastating for those living with mental health conditions. Forcing patients through repeated treatment failures in step therapy puts patients and their families in an untenable position when they remain undertreated and discouraged, with their functioning compromised and the risk of disability increasing with the lack of treatment effect. This amendment provides for Step Therapy exceptions, allowing the provider to prescribe the appropriate medication without “stepping” through medications that will not be helpful.
Amendment #28: Consistent reimbursement rates for telehealth (Sen. Lewis)
This amendment ensures that telehealth can be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits by allowing providers to continue to bill for facility fees as part of telehealth. In order for telehealth to remain financially viable for providers in the future, this amendment should be accepted.
Amendment #69: Consistent prior authorization requirements for telehealth (Sen. Barrett)
This amendment prohibits insurers from using prior authorization to determine medically necessary services for telehealth if they do not also require prior authorization for the same medically necessary services delivered through in-person visits. There is no reason for different prior authorization standards for the same medically necessary care, regardless of how it is delivered.
Contact your State Senator! Here’s how:
You can either call your Senator or copy and paste the below email and send it to them directly. Click here to find your Senator’s information.
Here is a sample call script or email:
I am contacting you today to voice my support for S. 2769, An Act relative to putting patients first and several amendments. Maintaining access to behavioral health providers via telehealth after the COVID-19 State of Emergency is lifted is so important to individuals and families.
As your constituent, I am asking you to vote YES in support of this bill as well as the following amendments:
· Amendment #2 will allow appropriate Step Therapy exceptions that avoid unnecessary trials of medications for individuals with behavioral health conditions
· Amendment #28 will ensure consistent reimbursement rates for telehealth after the COVID-19 State of Emergency ends
· Amendment #69 ensures that prior authorization requirements for telehealth are the same as for in-person treatment.
Your Name (and Address)