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Coronavirus Resources: Telehealth

Coronavirus: Guidelines and Telehealth

(updated daily)

Many of the guidelines and recommendations around prevention of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) involve limiting transmission of the disease via person-to-person contact and avoiding any unnecessary gatherings, events, and meetings. By 3/14/20, many clinics, agencies, and health organizations to moved to maximize use of virtual operations if possible, and many counselors considered using telehealth as an alternative to in-person counseling sessions. Then on 3/15/20, we saw even more measures put in place closing schools for 3 weeks, limiting gatherings to no more than 25 people, and prohibiting on-site consuption in restaurants and bars until April 6th. 

As of 3/21/20, it has become the exception that clinics and agencies are still requiring employees to come in for work. Only essential in-person service delivered to hospital and other populations that require ongoing care are conducting any type of face-to-face or in-person treatment, and even many of those providers are largely using telehealth. Massachusetts now faces communities with confirmed community transmission, National Guard resources deployed, over 320 positive COVID-19 cases, and sadly one confirmed COVID-19 death. 

MaMHCA has created a new email address: helpdesk@mamhca.org specifically to field questions and support providers who are experiencing challenges with either getting or providing mental health services during this critical and challenging emergency. MaMHCA staff will be monitoring this mailbox & sorting through the emails to forward on to the appropriate resources, associations, or government agencies for resolution.  This service is open to all Massachusetts providers of mental and behavioral health services, not just LMHCs.   

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission has a resource that provides insights, practical tips from providers, and information on successfully implementing telehealth for behavioral health services. This is helpful for those who have not yet implemented telehealth or are looking for reveiw of information for using it if you are not yet regularly implementing it in your practice. This resource is available here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/tele-behavioral-health-implementation-guide/download.  

Here is the information MaMHCA has compiled about telehealth specifically related to the current Coronavirus outbreak:

Basics:

These (emergency) policies:

  • Expand telehealth coverage, including telephonic coverage.

  • Cover 90-day refills of prescriptions and early refills.

  • Remind providers that there are no copays for lab tests.

  • Pharmacists cannot deny medications if a member cannot pay.

The bulletins and guidance are based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19 and will be updated as needed and as additional information is available.

►Note: Below are 2 Especially Important Documents, Providing Billing Codes, Procedure codes, and Appendix A Provides details of criteria, Bulletin 289 p3 outlines CBHI covered services.

Also – HIPAA required technology provision is WAIVED, for this emergency.

Here is an article on the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services website that reviews information about enforcement discretion related to HIPAA and the current national emergency: https://www.hhs.g​ov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html

The following bulletins and guidance have been posted:

Please regularly check mass.gov/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-and-masshealth for MassHealth-related information.

Commercial Insurers Covering Telehealth:

►Note: Be sure to verify the benefit as self-insured plans can OPT OUT.

  • AETNA 

  • BCBSMA 

  • Beacon 

  • Tufts 

  • UBH/Optum

  • Cigna

Please note, for more information around the Coronavirus in general, including facts on prevention, guidance and recommendations, and printable fact sheets. Please visit the website of the Department of Public Health to view their information and guidelines: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

 

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