Behavioral telehealth extension will have to wait

Any action to extend telehealth flexibilities from behavioral health will likely wait until the end of the year, KFF Health News reported April 10. 

Congress faces a year-end deadline to extend a slew of telehealth flexibilities put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, including provisions that allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive telehealth behavioral care from any provider, regardless of location, and a relaxation of requirements on in-person visits. 

Legislation that would permanently remove requirements that Medicare beneficiaries receiving telehealth behavioral care be seen in person every six months is backed by dozens of mental health groups. 

Congress is likely to kick the can on extending subsidies past the November election, Debbie Curtis, vice president of lobbying firm McDermott+Consulting, told KFF Health News. Experts told the outlet that while Congress could extend COVID-19 telehealth policies during a lame duck session, they are not likely to arrive at a permanent deal. 

Preserving pandemic telehealth flexibility is vital, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told the House Ways and Means Committee March 26. 

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