TAFA: Lawmakers Must Protect and Expand Access to Critical Telehealth Services to Combat Mental Health Crisis
Upcoming Congressional Hearings Provide Opportunity to Highlight Vital Role of Virtual Care in Improving the Treatment of Mental Health in America
Washington, D.C – Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) issued the following statement ahead of upcoming U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) and U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means hearings on mental health on Tuesday, February 1 and Wednesday, February 2, respectively.
“Telehealth access and services are vital to combatting our nation’s mental health crisis,” said TAFA spokesperson Julia Mirich. “It is imperative Congress act to protect access to telehealth, including virtual care for mental health services, with permanent reforms.”
“Lawmakers can also act to improve the treatment of mental health in America by removing arbitrary restrictions, such as requiring an in-person visit before a patient can have a behavioral telehealth visit,” said Mirich. “Members of Congress should capitalize on the opportunity provided by these upcoming hearings to add to the momentum for action to safeguard and expand access to virtual care services — critical tools for strengthening mental health treatment in the U.S. health care system.”
Recent studies have underscored telehealth’s importance in providing behavioral and mental health care. In fact, according to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, virtual mental health care improves treatment engagement, care retention, and patient satisfaction, leading to improved long-term health outcomes. And while it can take an average of 48 days before a patient is seen for behavioral health services, many patients simply cannot wait that long. In contrast, telehealth services can be readily available in minutes. Each year, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness – we should be expanding and protecting telehealth care options for these Americans, not leaving them in limbo.
ABOUT TELEHEALTH ACCESS FOR AMERICA
Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services.
Learn more at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.