Is telehealth here to stay? Depends on policy

Grand Forks Herald reports…

Behavioral health providers in North Dakota and Minnesota overcame challenges in making the rapid change to providing services through telehealth, and, while some providers say telehealth is here to stay, they want to see legal changes made to allow it to flourish.

The coronavirus pandemic that erupted in mid-March closed the doors of behavioral health providers in the region, necessitating the switch to telehealth. After a period of struggle, providers made the change and were aided by state-level executive orders which loosened restrictions on the provision of those services. When those orders expire, the gains made in expanding access to mental health services could be undone.

In Minnesota…

In particular, a Minnesota executive order signed on April 6, allows out-of-state practitioners to provide telehealth services until the state’s peacetime emergency is terminated, which could be as early as July 13.

In North Dakota…

Across the river, North Dakota Medicaid issued a temporary COVID-19 telehealth policy on March 25, that allows providers to make use of such platforms as the recently popular, Zoom and Google Hangouts. That policy is set to expire when the national emergency is declared over.

On the federal level…

At the federal level, there is some momentum in seeing the expanded access to telehealth, brought about by provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, made permanent. The number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services has skyrocketed by 11,718%, over the course of the pandemic. Portions of the CARES Act waived requirements for certain providers, including rural health clinics, to bill Medicare for primary and hospice care. A bipartisan group of 30 senators, including Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, advocating for the future of telehealth.

This entry was posted in Healthcare, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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