Congress Continues Fighting Opioid Epidemic Through the Introduction of the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act

Congress continues with legislation designed to combat the national opioid epidemic with the introduction of H.R. 6781, the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBane (D-WA). The bill was introduced mid-September, almost a week prior to the Senate passing of the comprehensive opioid package, H.R. 6. H.R. 6781 would amend the Social Security Act by removing Medicare originating site location requirements for mental health telehealth services. These requirements restrict telehealth originating sites to areas designated as rural health professional shortage areas, counties that are not included in a Metropolitan Statistical Area, and entities that participate in a Federal telemedicine demonstration project.

The bill adds mental health telehealth services as CPT codes 90834 and 90837, which are both for individual psychotherapy services. It also includes the home as an eligible originating site for mental health telehealth services.

Additionally, the new originating sites added by this bill would be ineligible to receive a facility fee. Payment for the services would require a physician or practitioner to provide an in-person assessment of the patient’s needs prior to the delivery of telehealth services and to reassess those needs at a frequency specified by the Secretary.
The full text of H.R. 6781 is available through the Congress website.