Alexis Bortniker Discusses Effects of Changing Telehealth Regulations on Behavioral Health Providers

27 June 2022 Behavioral Health Business News

Foley & Lardner LLP Partner Alexis Bortniker is quoted in the Behavioral Health Business article, “Brick-and-Mortar Behavioral Health Providers Best Positioned to Weather New Telehealth Regs,” about how facility-based behavioral health operators may be better positioned to cope with changing telehealth regulations than their virtual-only peers.

Bortniker, chair of Foley’s health care transaction group, suggested the resumption of a required in-person visit before a patient is prescribed a controlled substance may leave some providers in a lurch, saying, “These conversations with clients are twofold: We want to retain regulatory compliance. But we can’t dump our clients if we’ve been serving them for the last two years via telehealth because of an in-person requirement.”

She explained that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exemption to in-person visits is separate to the public health emergency (PHE) issued by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS). The DEA may extend the waiver on its own after the PHE expires.

Bortniker added, “I think it’s trickier for those companies that started telehealth-only because they have never had to think through how that relationship between a facility and the providers would work.” She continued that traditional, facility-based providers are more likely to have the needed experience to deal with heightened or new regulations around telehealth as the pandemic regulatory era continues to abate.

“Traditional brick and mortar health care is used to dealing with a lot of things like payment models, and as payment models change, patient interactions with those change,” Bortniker said.