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AAMC Joins Letter in Support of Bipartisan Telemental Health Bill

June 24, 2021

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Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

The AAMC joined other health care organizations in a June 22 letter supporting the bipartisan Telemental Health Care Access Act (S. 2061).

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (P.L. 116-260) expanded access to telehealth services in Medicare to allow beneficiaries to utilize telehealth for mental health services, including from the beneficiary’s home. However, it included a provision that requires the patient to be seen in person at least once every six months. The Telemental Health Care Access Act — introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tina Smith (D- Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) — would remove this requirement.

The letter states, “In-person requirements on telehealth services create unnecessary barriers to care and can be especially harmful for those seeking mental and behavioral health services. The Health Resources and Services Administration reports a shortage of over 6,500 providers in the mental and behavioral health specialty. The scarcity of providers, particularly in rural and underserved areas makes lifting the in-person requirement even more critical. Those seeking care should not, and in many instances cannot, travel for hours to see an in-person provider.”

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