Behavioral Health Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Memorandum
Telehealth FAQs and explanation of waiver request/submission/decision process for stipulated suspended regulations listed until Act 73 sunsets which is currently 3/31/2022
The Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is pleased to provide the attached Behavioral Health Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) memorandum in response to inquiries regarding recent OMHSAS Behavioral Health Telehealth Policy changes in OMHSAS-21-09 Guidelines for the Delivery of Behavioral Health Services Through Telehealth.
As a reminder, while Act 73 of 2021 remains in effect, it supersedes the requirements for providers to submit requests for waivers of the following suspended regulations:
- 55 Pa. Code § 5221.33 for Mental Health Intensive Case Management services;
- 55 Pa. Code § 1153.14 for Outpatient Psychiatric Services (psychiatric outpatient clinics, partial hospitalization outpatient facilities and mobile mental health treatment services); and
- 55 Pa. Code § 1223.14 for Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Clinic Services.
However, when Act 73 of 2021 sunsets (current date March 31, 2022), the requirement for being in possession of an approved wavier for the above regulations will be immediately reinstated. To prevent last minute rush and potential confusion as the suspension end date approaches, OMHSAS will immediately begin to process requests for regulatory waivers that have been submitted by impacted providers. Decision letters will be sent to each provider and requests that have been approved will have an effective date of “April 1, 2022 or the day after regulatory suspensions are lifted, whichever is later.” This language is being used for the purpose of aligning with any potential extensions of Act 73 of 2021 that are enacted by the General Assembly. Waivers will be valid for a period of one-year from the effective date.
Providers that have already submitted a request for waiver do not need to submit a second request. Providers that have not yet submitted a request for waiver and will be impacted by the identified regulations when the suspensions are lifted are encouraged to do so prior to the end of calendar year 2021. This will ensure ample time for the requests to be processed.
Questions or concerns regarding Bulletin OMHSAS-21-09 or the attached FAQ Memorandum should be directed by e-mail to the OMHSAS Bureau of Policy, Planning and Program Development’s Tele-Behavioral Health Services resource account at RA-PWTBHS@pa.gov.