Save Audio-Only Telehealth Services and Parity with In-Person Treatment
Please let legislators know it is important to preserve audio-only services. Let them know that telehealth brings no savings for providers, and it is crucial that parity of payment between telehealth and in-person treatment remain the standard in Minnesota. Feel free to use the suggested language and add your own stories.
Most legislators are supportive of continuing the expansion of telehealth beyond the Public Health Emergency. However, there are some requests for amendments from various groups that threaten core aspects of telehealth services. In the current telehealth bill in the Senate, audio-only services are only extended through 2023. We know audio services are key to providing access to care for rural, elderly, and disenfranchised individuals. The concern has been put forth that audio-only will become the method of choice for engaging groups plagued by health inequity. For many of these people, the choice is between audio-only services and no service at all. While this is cheaper, it further exacerbates health inequities in our state. Please let legislators know that audio-only services are crucial to care. Please send them a personal story of a time when audio-only services allowed you to provide care when there were no other options.
Efforts are also a afoot to reimburse all telehealth services at a lower rate than in-person care. These efforts are disguised in the language of addressing high health care costs by allowing value-based contracting. Nothing precludes payers from requiring such contracts now, and there is no reason to articulate in statute that these contracts can be used by payers. We all know the lack of input small providers have when contracting with payers—we essentially take what they offer, or we are not on their provider panels. There is no room for negotiation. We don’t need more ways for payers to reduce our fees. Please ask your legislators to maintain payment parity in order to ensure access to care for all Minnesotans.
You can send a message to your legislator using the associated link. Please personalize the story so it grabs legislators’ attention. Tell them about a time when the WIFI went out at a crucial juncture in therapy, and the only way you could make sure your client was safe was by reaching out through audio-only services, or other similar stories. Tell them about what will happen if there is no longer payment parity and you are once again incentivized to provide in-person care. This will take away the gains made during the pandemic through the use of telehealth for underserved groups, and will, once again, limit access to care for these vulnerable groups.