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March 12, 2020

OMH Announces Regulatory Waiver for Telemental Health Amid COVID-19 Crisis

On March 11, the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) announced it would be offering a regulatory waiver for telemental health services to ensure that NYS residents continue to receive mental health services regardless of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)-related concerns.

The OMH’s announcement will waive sections of Part 596 to allow for rapid approval of telemental health use, allowing providers to deliver necessary mental health services regardless of mandatory or self-imposed COVID-19 quarantines. The waiver was announced after local OMH field offices were contacted by providers inquiring about the use of telemental health due to patients’ concerns and anxiety about leaving their homes amid the current crisis as well as ensuring proper emergency plans are in place in the event there is a quarantine and staff cannot leave their homes.

To provide telemental health services for the length of the disaster emergency in New York State, providers must certify to the following:

  1. That they possess a current, valid license, permit, or limited permit to practice in the state
  2. That transmission linkages will be dedicated, secure, and meet minimum state and federal requirements
  3. That confidentiality will be maintained as required by Section 33.13 of the Mental Hygiene Law and the HIPAA Privacy Rules
  4. The claim modifiers “95” or “GT” will be used on each claim that represents a telemental health service

Providers must complete and submit the Self-Attestation of Compliance to Offer Telemental Health Services form to Amy.Smith@omh.ny.gov. Providers are also required to maintain a copy of the form for later review.

In addition to waiving approval requirements, the OMH notice also waived regulatory requirements pertaining to the need for policies and procedures as well as who must be present when services are delivered, where the service recipient can be located, and the need for an initial in-person assessment prior to the delivery of telemental health services.

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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