HHS: Congress cannot allow behavioral telehealth flexibilities to expire

Congress cannot allow telehealth flexibilities for behavioral health implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to expire, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. 

Rules that allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive telehealth behavioral care from any provider, regardless of location, and relax requirements on in-person visits, expire at the end of 2024. 

"We can't allow those flexibilities to expire," Mr. Becerra told the House Ways and Means Committee at a March 20 hearing.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would permanently remove requirements that Medicare beneficiaries receiving telehealth behavioral care be seen in person every six months, and make other pandemic flexibilities permanent. The legislation is backed by dozens of mental health groups. 

"We need to work closer with our state partners, because much of the flexibility from telehealth means being able to go over state lines. Because states decide who gets licensed to do care, we have to have the cooperation of the states to make sure telehealth can go beyond its own state borders," Mr. Becerra told lawmakers. 

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