By Greg Freeman
The expansion of telehealth services brings more risk of fraud and a greater need for internal compliance programs, according to the 2020 Telemental Health Laws survey from Epstein Becker Green in Washington, DC.
In its fifth year examining state telemental health laws, regulations, and policies, the firm found the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on lawmakers to increase access to telemental health services, while also finding greater potential for fraud. (The full report is available online at: https://www.ebglaw.com/announcements/epstein-becker-greens-annual-telehealth-analysis-reports-an-increase-in-telemental-health-fraud/.)
State laws are changing rapidly regarding the use of telehealth services, says Amy Lerman, JD, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green and the main author of the report. That increases the risk of noncompliance as organizations work with providers across state lines.
“Within many of the states, for instance, there are evolving approaches to remote subscribing. Tracking issues like that can be challenging to keep track of what your licensed professionals can do in that area,” she says “We don’t see as often that states remove these laws, with it being more common to provide positive guidance. But there are nuances, especially with mental health services. A mental health provider may need to follow more requirements and have more obligations than other providers.”
Fraud is another concern as the use of telemental health services increase, Lerman says.
“The enforcement bodies are watching, so it more important now than ever to make sure you are doing everything in the right way. You need to know if you can do in Texas what you are doing in Pennsylvania,” she says.