DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable Ann M. Kuster
Sent By:
Marisa.Salemme@mail.house.gov

 

Join Letter to HHS Requesting Guidance on Telehealth for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment During Coronavirus

DEADLINE: 3pm Tuesday, March 17

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services requesting immediate guidance to providers on telehealth services for mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the coronavirus public health crisis.

On March 6th, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 (H.R. 6074). This critical legislation passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support,
and included the Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020 (the TSDCEPA). TSDCEPA authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain existing Medicare telehealth restrictions during certain emergency periods.
On March 13, President Trump subsequently declared a national emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby allowing TSDCEPA to be implemented.

We believe it is urgent that HHS now exercises the authority granted in H.R. 6074. The waiver of certain current telehealth restrictions will ensure Medicare patients can access the mental health and substance use disorder treatment they need, bring immediate
additional health care provider capacity, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both patients and providers. 

In addition to guidance for providers on how to move forward with telehealth services in Medicare, this letter also requests a waiver on the requirement for the provider to have billed Medicare Part B for a visit within the previous three years. During this
time of crisis, flexibility is paramount to ensuring patients are receiving the critical care they need while keeping everyone safe from the spread of coronavirus. 

To join as a cosigner, please email Marisa Salemme at marisa.salemme@mail.house.gov by 3pm on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

 

Thank you,

Ann McLane Kuster

 

Letter Text:

The Honorable Alex Azar

Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave SW

Washington, D.C.  20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar:

 

We write today to ask for expedited guidance for behavioral health providers to employ telehealth for mental health and substance use disorder treatment during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While we appreciate the ongoing efforts that the Administration
has already undertaken, it is imperative that patients are able to access treatment in the most appropriate setting during this public health crisis.

On March 6th, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 (H.R. 6074). This critical legislation passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support,
and included the Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020 (the TSDCEPA). TSDCEPA authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain existing Medicare telehealth restrictions during certain emergency periods.
On March 13, President Trump subsequently declared a national emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby allowing TSDCEPA to be implemented.

We believe it is urgent that HHS now exercises the authority granted in H.R. 6074. The waiver of certain current telehealth restrictions will ensure Medicare patients can access the mental health and substance use disorder treatment they need, bring immediate
additional health care provider capacity, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both patients and providers. 

Specifically, we ask that you provide guidance about how to use and bill for services under the telehealth waiver and that you address the following issues that are preventing behavioral health providers around the country from using telehealth to best serve
and protect their patients:

  • Originating site requirement for patients to receive care from the home;
  • Definition of “qualified provider”;
  • Restriction on use of a telephone; and
  • Duration of waiver period.

Despite Congress granting the Department the explicit authority to waive certain restrictions over ten days ago, and an exponentially growing coronavirus public health emergency, HHS has yet to issue corresponding guidance. This guidance, once issued, will
immediately increase and improve behavioral health care access for Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

Finally, given the increasing severity of this public health crisis, as well as the particular vulnerable position in which our seniors are left, we urge you to issue this guidance as broadly and as expeditiously as possible. We also ask that you consider
a waiver on the requirement for the provider to have billed Medicare Part B for a visit within the previous three years.

We look forward to your prompt attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: HealthCare

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
 
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.