ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A new law backed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, to expand access to behavioral and mental health care for underserved families is set to take effect on Jan. 1.
“Telehealth is a growing health care delivery model that can be used to connect rural residents to behavioral health care providers, provide after-hours counseling and reduce avoidable emergency room visits,” said Halpin. “This expansion of telehealth services will increase patients’ access to critical mental health care, while also improving quality and reducing costs.”
Halpin’s Senate Bill 3049 adds clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, advanced practice nurses and mental health professionals to Illinois’ list of providers eligible for Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth services. The law also allows Medicaid-certified facilities that host patients during telehealth interactions to be reimbursed. Currently, roughly 30 states allow Medicaid coverage for behavioral telehealth services, which Halpin believes can be used as part of a comprehensive response to the opioid and drug abuse crisis.
“Opioid addiction affects families in all areas of our state, but access to mental health or addiction treatment may be limited, especially for low-income patients, or simply unavailable in some areas,” said Halpin. “This new law removes geographic barriers to treatment to help ensure that residents who need specialized services can receive them conveniently and affordably.”