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March 17, 2020

COVID-19: OMH Issues Supplemental Telemental Health Guidance

On March 12, we wrote about the regulatory waiver for telemental health services issued by the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Subsequently, on March 13, the DOH released supplemental guidance expanding on the previously provided telemental health services waiver information. The supplemental guidance expands the definition of telemental health as well as the staff allowed to utilize the service method during the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Importantly, this supplemental guidance only applies to certain OMH-licensed programs and designated services. These licensed and designated services include:

  • OMH-licensed services: Article 31 clinics, certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs), personalized recovery-oriented services (PROS), assertive community treatment (ACT), adult continuing day treatment, children’s day treatment, treatment apartment programs, and partial hospitalization
  • OMH-designated services: Children and family treatment and support services (CFTSS), adult behavioral health home and community-based services (BH HCBS), adult BH HCBS eligibility assessments, and recovery coordination services

The supplemental guidance does not apply to community residences, adult BH HCBS short-term respite and intensive crisis respite, or to private practitioners operating outside of an OMH-licensed or designated service.

The supplemental guidance has temporarily expanded telemental health for Medicaid reimbursable services to include both telephonic and video contact, including technology commonly available on smart phones and other devices. Additionally, the specific OMH-licensed and designated programs may deliver services through telephone or video using any staff permitted under current program regulations or NYS guidance, as medically appropriate. The supplemental guidance defines a telemental health practitioner to include any professional, paraprofessional, or unlicensed behavioral health staff member who delivers a qualified service via telemental health.

Notably, the process identified in the initial OMH Self-Attestation of Compliance to Offer Telemental Health Services form continues to apply. A revised form has been released, but providers who have already submitted the original form to the OMH don’t need to resubmit.

Additionally, the supplemental guidance does not change the Medicaid reimbursement amount for services nor the service requirements for reimbursement.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Dena DeFazio, associate, at ddefazio@barclaydamon.com or another member of the firm’s Health Care & Health and Human Services Practice Area.

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