Republican Janet Stevens pens letter of support to Gov. Sununu
March 19th, 2020
THANKS TO GOVERNOR SUNUNU FOR SUPPORTING TELEHEALTH DURING THE COVID 19 CRISIS
March 19 — To the Editor:
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health challenge affecting New Hampshire and the nation. Due to the high risk of exposure and spreading the virus during in-person treatment, it’s critical to identify and implement alternatives that offer superior health interactions, diagnosis and treatments. There are virtual tools available to treat patients, which will reduce risk exposures, while providing a continuum of care and treatment options during this pandemic.
In February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established interim guidelines for providers and healthcare facilities, which in addition to reducing risk of exposure and minimizing disease transmission, included the preservation and functioning of our nation’s healthcare system. One of the key recommendations from the CDC is increased use of telehealth interactions with patients throughout this public health crisis.
Great progress was made today in advancing and expanding urgent access to telehealth services in New Hampshire; Governor Sununu signed Executive Order #8, which would require insurance companies to allow healthcare providers to utilize telehealth for necessary medical visits, and for reimbursement at a pay level not differing from traditional, in-person visits.
As a member of the Mental Health Practices Board in New Hampshire, I applaud this decision. Over the weekend, I was informed that certain New Hampshire-based, licensed mental health care practitioners, who were in the process of transitioning to telehealth as a result of COVID-19, were at risk of not being reimbursed for telehealth appointments. Action began immediately on Monday. A series of conference calls with Deputy Commissioners within the Insurance Commission addressed both the urgent need for patient access and the need for New Hampshire providers to be reimbursed at the pay level they are entitled to. Within 48 hours, the objective was achieved.
Thank you, Governor Sununu and your administration, for your support and for your all-encompassing efforts to flatten the curve. Additionally, thank you for ensuring that New Hampshire residents have continued access to mental health services – and all medically necessary care via telehealth — during the COVID-19 crisis.
Member of the New Hampshire Mental Health Practices Board