Social Worker: Telehealth Reimbursement Parity Critical for Future
Monday, August 9, 2021
AUGUSTA, Maine - The pandemic has revealed the benefits of telemedicine - but advocates are concerned that in Maine, some providers may not be able to offer it, long-term.
While insurance companies are required to cover telehealth, providers aren't always reimbursed at the same rates as for in-person care.
Lynn Stanley, executive director of the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said the smaller reimbursements could limit providers from offering telehealth - even though it's become critical for many people facing a lack of childcare, transportation or other limiting factors.
"We're concerned mental-health providers will not be able to afford to provide telehealth services to their clients," said Stanley. "If insurance companies lower the reimbursement rate when a service is provided by a telehealth, it becomes financially unsustainable for the therapist or the agency."
Some states, like neighboring New Hampshire, have statutes requiring insurers cover telehealth at the same rates, but Stanley noted Maine isn't one of them. And even in states with reimbursement parity, the requirement doesn't apply to the self-insured health plans offered at many businesses.
Richard Cantz is the CEO of Goodwill Northern New England, which provides self-insured health plans and opts to reimburse telehealth services at the same rates as in-person care.
He said it increases accessibility - especially in a state like Maine, where more than 60% of the population lives in rural areas.
"This is especially important within our rural territory," said Cantz. "Transportation and other barriers to health care exist. So, this really eased the decision for us. It was so important, both for accessibility and equity, for our employees and those we serve."
He added that others may not have time to take off work.
Advocates for reimbursement parity are urging other businesses to also cover telehealth at the same rate if they offer self-insured plans.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …
Health and Wellness
BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …
OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …
CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …
BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …
PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Mike Parson is facing calls to get the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission off the ground after it was created by the …