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For providers Policy changes during COVID-19

Consolidated Appropriations and American Rescue Plan Acts of 2021 telehealth updates

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 continued and expanded telehealth funding and reimbursement due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021

Rural health

Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) were added as eligible Medicare originating sites for telehealth. This allows patients to be located at an REH when receiving telehealth services. The REH needs to meet the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) “rural” classification to bill Medicare as an originating site.

Behavioral health

Medicare patients can now receive telehealth services for behavioral health care in their homes in any part of the country. This includes most behavioral health services such as counseling, psychotherapy, and psychiatric evaluations. The patient must have had at least one in-person visit with the provider in the six months before the telehealth visit in order to be eligible.

Please see this summary (PDF) exit disclaimer icon  from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) on Telehealth Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for more information.

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Emergency Rural Development Grants for rural health care may now be used to increase telehealth capabilities, including health care information systems. A complete list of allowable uses of funds can be found here.

Funding for Community-Based Funding for Local Behavioral Health Needs Grants may be used to provide behavioral health services delivered to patients using telehealth services.

The American Rescue Plan also expands pediatric telehealth behavioral health care access with nearly $11 million in grants.

Last updated: September 8, 2021

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