In his 2021 State of the State Address on January 10, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced legislation to expand access to telehealth. The proposals will adjust reimbursement incentives to encourage telehealth, relax or eliminate outdated regulatory restrictions on the delivery of telehealth services, and establish training programs for patients and providers and other programs to incentivize the use of telehealth.
Like most states and the federal government, New York had waived or softened certain regulatory requirements in order to expand access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although patient acceptance and demand for telehealth services have exceeded expectations in some areas, particularly for mental health and substance abuse services, maintaining and building upon these gains after the pandemic ends is a concern for many. Continuing to facilitate access and lowering costs for low-income and underserved communities is a primary focus.
Gov. Cuomo’s proposals include requiring Medicaid to offer reimbursement for telehealth services irrespective of where the patient or provider is located, establishing interstate licensing reciprocity with other states in the Northeast for both medical and behavioral health professionals, continuing COVID-era flexibilities for delivery of certain mental health and substance use disorder services by trained but unlicensed staff, and requiring commercial health insurers to offer telehealth programs to their insureds.