Addiction Policy News

The Mental Health Liaison Group Urges CMS to Extend Telehealth Flexibilities for One Year After the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

May 22, 2020


On May 22, the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), of which ASAM is a member, sent a letter to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Seema Verma, requesting that CMS extend certain flexibilities associated with telehealth for Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and other federally funded health programs. The letter specifically requests that CMS allow for a one-year transitional period to begin once the COVID-19 health emergency ends, during which telehealth flexibilities granted due to the emergency would remain in place. MHLG also requests that CMS use the transitional period to collect data to determine if the various flexibilities granted during the COVID-19 health emergency should be permanently implemented.


The letter emphasizes the positive impact the emergency telehealth flexibilities have had on access to healthcare services, noting that without such flexibilities, measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic such as social distancing would have severely limited the ability of behavioral health providers to treat patients. The letter continues by noting that given the trauma resulting from COVID-19 and measures taken to shorten the duration of the pandemic, the U.S. population will require continued and enhanced behavioral health services when the pandemic emergency ends. It is important that CMS extend existing telehealth flexibilities so that new and existing patients can access their behavioral health providers.


Read the letter here.