NBCC recently sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma concerning both the Mental Health Access Improvement Act and temporary telehealth measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 3, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access.” Section 4 of that executive order directs Secretary Azar to present policy changes that would improve rural access to mental health services. NBCC, along with the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, sent letters urging the Secretary to include S. 286/H.R. 945 in any list of policy options he presents to the president.
Section 5 of the executive order mandates a review of temporary telehealth policies that have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic with the purpose of making some of them permanent.
NBCC urged both Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma to consider making several provisions permanent, including one that allows mental health counselors working in Rural Health Clinics or Federally Qualified Health Centers to bill Medicare for telehealth services. Our Government & Legislative Affairs Department will continue working to ensure that temporary policies benefiting mental health counselors are made permanent.