COVID-19 Telehealth Resource Page
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Breaking News:

Governor J. B. Pritzker Issues Critical Telehealth Executive Order

March 19, 2020

 We are very pleased to announce that, in response to our request and proposal, Governor JB Pritzker has just issued an important Executive Order that requires all health insurance issuers regulated by the Department of Insurance to cover telehealth services. The Order applies to provisions of mental health & substance use disorder treatment and general healthcare. The technology authorized to be utilized goes beyond traditional telehealth methods to include:

  • Cellular phones;
  • Facebook Messenger;
  • Google Hangout;
  • FaceTime, or;
  • Skype.

These methods do not have to meet the HIPAA standards per the Waiver issued by the federal Office of Civil Rights.

The services may be provided by any in-network physician, APRNs, psychologists, clinical social workers, other mental health providers, and other substance use disorder treatment providers who are licensed, registered, certified and/or authorized to practice.

The health insurance issuers shall NOT impose utilization review requirements that are unnecessary OR impose any treatment limitations that are more stringent than the requirement imposed upon in-person care. There are also NO PRIOR AUTHORIZATION requirements allowed to be imposed for in-network providers. Finally, no cost sharing requirements may be imposed upon patients under this order.


How can #CounselorsHelp?


The ICA Insurance Task Force has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its implications for counselors. Below is an update from the Task Force.

Since March 1, 2020, Americans began wondering what to do regarding travel and Spring Break trips.  American behavioral health providers began to hear more in session about the worry that was seeping into our country and culture.  As of March 2, 2020 many of us were posting cautionary announcements in our waiting rooms addressing hand sanitizer, hand washing and travel concerns.  As of March 6, 2020 groups of practitioners were talking about whether BCBS would open up its’ telehealth service delivery beyond MDLive.  On March 10, 2020 we received a vague notice informing that it was expanding Telehealth services in light of the COVID-19 concerns; however, we did not receive clear information until March 16, 2020 that they were expanding it to all BCBS members (based on specific plans).

To say we are facing unprecedented times is an understatement.  All of us have been receiving communications of mixed varieties but all in all the message as of this moment on March 19th 2020 are the following:

  1. Take care of yourselves as you are valuable, which means some variety of self-quarantine  or social distancing is necessary for all as it pertains to the health and well-being of us all.
  2. Take care of your family and close friends by encouraging them to do the same.
  3. Take care of your clients.

This later point has proven tricky as we then come back to points 1 and 2 which are difficult if we want to protect ourselves, our families, and our clients.  Likely many of you have been receiving emails and updates from insurance companies and list serves on how best to do this utilizing tele-health methods. 

Earlier this week as things were developing it brought the question, “what tele-health method can and should I use?”  As many of us have been stating over the past weeks we are all moving as quickly as possible to attend to these needs without being unethical in abandoning client care but also in questioning how to balance client care with our own care.  Yesterday we heard from our President that any means necessary and HIPPA compliant methods are not necessary; however, that often flies in the face opposite what our contracts and our clients’ insurance plans are willing to reimburse.

A few movements also developed encouraging clinicians to sign petitions to ensure good mental health support continues for all of Illinois residents in a telehealth format keeping us all safe and attended to:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/110/599/743/demand-that-insurance-companies-reimburse-fairly-for-telementalhealth-during-covid-19/#updated

http://chng.it/fcjmhrJNhH

 

At this time, the message is strong and consistent now that we are faced with a Pandemic Health Crisis—"by any means necessary we need to support those we serve.”  However, there are still so many questions and likely this will continue to morph in the weeks and months to come. 

Listed below are points we are some guidelines, and links we would like to share with all of you.

HIPPA compliant Tele-health platforms:

C3NOW

VPCare360

Regroup Therapy

TheraNest

MD Live

Zoom

Doxy.me

Jituzu

Simple Practice

WebEx
 

Mindfulness Methods to support folks with anxiety/fear/panic:

Headspace app

Calm app

Breathe app

Mindfulness app

Insurance companies that have responded with approval to teletherapy (recommendation to have the member call for specifics as some plans are not included):

Unitedhealthcare/UBH/OPTUM

BCBS PPO https://www.bcbsil.com/provider/education/2020/2020_03_16.html

BCBS HMO https://www.bcbsil.com/provider/education/2020/2020_03_16.html

BCBS Community MMAI https://www.bcbsil.com/provider/education/2020/2020_03_16.html

Blue Cross Medicare Advantage PPO plans https://www.bcbsil.com/provider/education/2020/2020_03_16.html

CIGNA PPO

Magellan http://www.magellanprovider.com/education/telehealth.aspx

Medicaid

Medicare

AETNA

HUMANA

We received the following specifics from Magellan:

Magellan is covering teletherapy and has just added coverage for Advocate-based BCBSIL HMO plans (HMO-Illinois, Blue Advantage, Blue Precision, BlueCare Direct) in their existing telehealth program, which pays at the same rate as face-to-face sessions. If you're in the Magellan network and wish to participate, you'll need to attest to your readiness to do teletherapy (tell them what platform you're using and attest that you're giving proper informed consent and emergency management) on the Magellan provider website.

Additionally, you should check the allowable CPT codes, instructions for billing (such as location  code= 2 (telehealth); plus modifier of GT or 95 (telehealth), and answers to frequently-asked questions.  At this time, many of these items can be found on the specific insurance companies sites under behavioral health.


Additional Resources


ICA Insurance Task Force
Jennifer Froemel, LCPC, CMHIMP
Norman Dasenbrook, LCPC
Danielle Kepler, LCPC
Francesca Giordano, Ph.D., LCPC
Sandra Kakacek, LCPC



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