ATA Releases Recommendations for the Recent MassHealth Telehealth Bulletin

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has written a letter to commend MassHealth on their commitment to improving access to behavioral healthcare through telehealth while also make recommendations for small changes to their recent All Provider Bulletin 281 that would better align with telemedicine industry standards.

In January, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services Office of Medicaid put out the bulletin of rules regarding behavioral health services through telehealth. While mostly positive, the bulletin included several sections that pose challenges for current telepsychiatry programs and providers.

In summary the ATA recommendations are:

  • Reconsider a requirement that providers may only prescribe Schedule II controlled substances via telehealth after conducting an initial in-person examination
    • Adding this extra layer just for MassHealth providers on top of existing federal regulations is unnecessary and limiting
  • Clarify confusing language on which provider types are eligible to provide services through telehealth
  • Remove the extra practice standards for Masshealth providers that go beyond what is required by Massachusetts licensing boards
    • The requirement of a special telehealth training & maintenance of specific telehealth policies, in particular, are unnecessary additions

The full ATA recommendations to MassHealth can be found here.