Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN), Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), and 30 members sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting that Congress consider extending the mental telehealth services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The mental health of each American is vital to the overall health of our nation. Without proper access to care, we are doing a disservice to those most in need,” said Emmer. “The mental telehealth care offered during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important step towards providing more access and quality care for individuals in need, and it’s important that these services continued to be offered following this high-stress time. Telehealth is the future of health care, and we must begin to integrate it when appropriate in order to serve everyone where they are.”
This letter urges Congressional Leadership to consider extending behavioral telehealth services in any upcoming COVID-19 response packages for a reasonable time following the COVID-19 emergency to assess which of the services should be continued permanently.
Telehealth is the provision of long-distance health care through electronic platforms such as video chats, phone calls, or instant messaging. It has proven to be an extremely successful approach in ensuring that patients are receiving mental health and addiction care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded their behavioral telehealth flexibilities, and ultimately increased access to these essential services.
This effort is supported by Mental Health America, the National Association for Behavioral Health, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the American Psychological Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine; and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Read the letter here.