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States Expand Access to Behavioral Health via Telehealth

A recent Medicaid budget survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation highlights notable trends in expanding access to behavioral health care using telehealth services.

Behavioral health conditions, including mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD), increased significantly during the COVID-19 public health crisis. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, states are eligible for an enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for behavioral health services.

As of July, 45 states covered mental health and SUD services via audio-only telehealth. Of those, 31 reported expanded telehealth services helped maintain or improve access to behavioral health throughout the pandemic. Further, states most frequently identified psychotherapy, counseling (for mental health conditions or SUD), and patient evaluations as services with the highest telehealth use during fiscal year 2021.

Much of the expanded telehealth flexibility is tied directly to the COVID-19 public health emergency; as such, states are determining whether to permanently expand telehealth options after the PHE ends.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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