Medicaid officials in 44 states (including the District of Columbia) responded to a KFF survey on policies and attitudes related to the provision of tele-behavioral health services. Officials have reported high rates of use of telehealth services for behavioral health purposes since the beginning of the pandemic and plan to continue expanding telehealth permanently.
Telehealth appears to be essential when accessing behavioral health services for Medicaid users.
In 2022, behavioral health and especially mental health, stayed A senior service category with a high utilization of telehealth among Medicaid enrollees.
lately KFF scan, state Medicaid officials were asked about their telehealth delivery policies and directions when it comes to behavioral health. Of all the US states, only 44 (including the District of Columbia) participated. The responses have led many to seek permanent adoption of telehealth policy expansions in the era of the pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, all 50 states expanded coverage and/or access to Medicaid telehealth services. Survey respondents reported that they had taken at least one specific Medicaid policy action to expand access to behavioral health care through telehealth. For example, states have expanded the types of behavioral health providers eligible to provide Medicaid services through telehealth. States have also expanded the categories of behavioral health Medicaid services eligible to provide telehealth. Finally, countries have recently allowed or expanded their voice-only services.
As of July 1, 2022, states were likely to offer these voice-only services.
Audio-only coverage is reported to help facilitate access to care, particularly in rural areas with broadband access challenges and for older populations who may struggle to use audiovisual technology.
While many states report elevated telehealth use of post-treatment behavioral health care, some have noted usage trends among certain subgroups of Medicaid enrollees.
These subsets of trends include:
- geographical: with countries most commonly reporting particularly high use of behavioral health telehealth services in rural areas compared to urban areas.
- populationThese trends indicate that behavioral health conditions are more prevalent among young adults and white people. In particular, some states reported that younger enrollees (including children and non-elderly adults) were more likely to use telehealth for behavioral health care.
- My timeCountries have repeatedly reported lower use of behavioral health-related telehealth than its peak earlier in the pandemic, but it is still high compared to the pre-pandemic period. Future policy changes, such as further expansion or limiting the flexibility of telehealth, may affect continued use.
Almost all of the responding states found some of these trends by monitoring use in 2022. Many plan to start doing so in 2023, which is important for the future of Medicaid’s telehealth policy for behavioral health because it relies on ongoing analysis of use and other data, such as Federal guidance.
As states continue and expand their monitoring, the results of these analyzes may provide information that can inform policy decisions.
For example, file The Safer Communities Act is bipartisan The law signed in June 2022 directs CMS to issue guidance to states on options and best practices for expanding access to telehealth in Medicaid, including strategies for evaluating the impact of telehealth on quality and outcomes, the KFF said. CMS should then issue this directive by the end of 2023.
the Consolidated Appropriations Act Passed in December 2022 authorized additional provisions for telehealth, such as a requirement for Medicaid Provider Directory to include information about telehealth coverage and CMS to issue guidance on how states can use telehealth to deliver crisis response services.