telemental health

New Bill Could Allow You to See a Psychiatrist at Home

A bill that little is known about in the home health care world was recently marked up by the United States House of Representatives. It could impact providers and the post-acute care space significantly. Could you benefit from telemental health services?


The Beneficiary Education Tools Telehealth Extender Reauthorization Act (also known as the BETTER ACT) was presented on the House floor by Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Kevin Brady (D-TX) on June 21.The BETTER Act is a health care legislation that aims to improve the access to and quality of mental health services for Medicare beneficiaries.

The BETTER Act would give Medicare beneficiaries better access to mental health services through telehealth by loosening current restrictions on this type of treatment. In addition, this would cut out the fees from visiting a doctor’s office.

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This legislation wants the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to send Congress a report on a prototype value based payment program in Medicare. The deadline for the report is March 15, 2021.

MedPAC has previously looked into using a unified payment model for post-acute care providers. However, the language used in the BETTER Act legislation, would make it more solid and could potentially lay out the groundwork for a Medicare demonstration.

Currently, there are only concepts that have been loosely outlined for a unified post-acute care payment model. They have translated to around a five percent cut from home health providers.

Telemental health

The proposed bill does not only plan to expand on telehealth coverage for mental health services and a unified post-acute payment model, but it would also change details of the skilled nursing facility (SNF) value-based purchasing program.

The BETTER Act currently requires that beneficiaries first go through a clinical assessment before services can be rendered. Telehealth is not allowed as the assessment is currently required to be face-to-face.

If the BETTER Act is enacted, it would be the latest effort from the government to accept new opportunities for home-based care providers and in-home telehealth.

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