New Jersey recently passed several laws in response to the Coronavirus crisis. Two of those potentially impact mental health providers and their clients.
New Jersey Assembly Bill A-3843Assembly Bill A-3843 would require health insurance companies (including health, hospital and medical service corporations, health maintenance organizations and insurers) authorized to do business in New Jersey; New Jersey State and School Employee’s Health Benefits Programs and the State’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for coronavirus disease testing ordered by a medical practitioner and the delivery of health care services via telemedicine or telehealth.
A-3843 would require that such coverage would be to the same extent as for any other services under the health benefits plan in question, except that no cost-sharing may be imposed on such coverage. These provisions would take place immediately and would apply to all health benefit plans currently in effect or come into effect in the State after the effective date of the bill.
New Jersey Assembly Bill A-3860Assembly Bill A-3860 provides that any health care practitioner will be authorized to provide and bill for services using telemedicine and telehealth — regardless of whether rules and regulations regarding telemedicine and telehealth have been adopted. This applies to the full range of services identified in the existing New Jersey telemedicine and telehealth laws, provided that the appropriate standard of care can be met.
A-3860 would enable a health care practitioner validly licensed/certified in another State or the District of Columbia to render services using telemedicine and telehealth if said license/certificate is in good standing and the services to be provided are within the professional’s authorized scope of practice in their licensing State.
There are, however, a couple of important requirements limiting the ability of non- New Jersey licensed health care practitioners to render services in New Jersey. First, if the non-New Jersey licensed health care practitioner does not have a preexisting provider-patient relationship with the patient (unrelated to Covid-19), the services that can be provided are limited to screening for/diagnosing/treating Covid-19. If the non-New Jersey licensed health care practitioner determines that a telemedicine or telehealth interaction with a patient located in New Jersey does not involve screening for/diagnosing/treating Covid-19 and there is no preexisting provider-patient relationship, the practitioner mustadvise the patient that he/she is not authorized to provide services to them; must recommend that the patient seek a new telemedicine or telehealth encounter with a New Jersey licensed health care practitioner, and must terminate the telemedicine or telehealth encounter. In the event of such termination the non-New Jersey licensed practitioner may not bill for such services.
A-3860 would also require the Commissioner of Health and the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to waive State laws and regulations as necessary to facilitate the provision of health care services using telemedicine and telehealth during this public health emergency, including privacy requirements that might limit electronic/technological means not typically used in telemedicine and telehealth.
How Do These Bills Impact Our Clients?Assembly Bill A-3843 has the potential to make the delivery of mental health counseling services by telehealth and telemedicine a reality for New Jersey residents by mandating insurance coverage for it if mental health counseling is a covered benefit. It won’t create coverage, but the delivery of the benefit can’t be limited to in-person if it is a covered benefit during this emergency.
Assembly Bill A-3860 puts some important limitations on the use of telemedicine and telehealth by non-New Jersey licensed health care professionals in the treatment of New Jersey patients.
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