5 behavioral health regulatory updates to know

HHS is introducing new flexibilities designed to make telehealth treatment for opioid use disorder easier to access and adding new rules aimed at improving confidentiality. 

CMS will also introduce a new model to integrate behavioral and physical healthcare with other health-related social needs in Medicare and Medicaid. 

Here are five behavioral health regulatory updates reported by Becker's in 2024 to note: 

  1. HHS will implement new rules designed to improve confidentiality for patients receiving treatment for substance use disorder and integrate records for these treatments with standard medical records.

  2. HHS will make permanent the flexibility for prescribing buprenorphine through telehealth implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a final rule issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioid treatment programs will be able to initiate buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder through telehealth without requiring in-person visits.

  3. Four senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would remove barriers to accessing telemedicine services for behavioral healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries. If passed, it would allow Medicare patients direct access to mental health services through telehealth by removing the requirement that they must be seen in person within six months of being treated through telehealth for mental health needs.

  4. CMS will introduce a new model designed to integrate behavioral and physical healthcare with health-related social needs in Medicare and Medicaid. The Integrated Behavioral Health model is intended to improve outcomes for adults with moderate or severe behavioral health or substance use conditions. The agency will select up to eight states to participate in the model for eight years.

  5. Six new Medicare Advantage regulations related to behavioral health took effect Jan. 1, including rules aimed at bolstering access to licensed clinical social workers and clinical psychologists. 

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