SAN FRANCISCO, August 29, 2016 – Just in time for the 2016-17 school year, the Missouri Senate passed an act that will require MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid program, to reimburse districts for related services provided to students via telehealth. This increased funding will enable districts to use both on-site and online therapy and diagnostic services to help alleviate overflowing caseloads for on-site clinicians.
“Children in Missouri are going to benefit greatly from this change,” said Clay Whitehead, co-Founder and co-CEO of PresenceLearning. “Telemedicine is a standard part of every field of therapy today, but outdated regulations were keeping it from helping the children who needed these services the most. Now that reimbursement is not an issue, all children have equitable access to online services and the focus can move to helping every child unlock their potential.”
Missouri Senate’sAct SB579 specifies that Missouri-state licensed psychologists, speech-language pathologists (SLPs), occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical social workers are eligible to administer telehealth services to MO HealthNet participants. The act also names schools, a recipient's home, a child assessment center and more as appropriate “originating sites,” which are the locations participants can receive telehealth services.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), districts must provide students with special needs with special education and/or related services such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral and mental health services. However, a chronic nationwide shortage of clinical professionals has made it difficult to staff district programs consistently. While telehealth has proven to produce the same or better results when compared to on-site services, Missouri districts that chose to use it were previously penalized because it was not Medicaid reimbursable. Now that telehealth is Medicaid reimbursable in Missouri, districts can choose telehealth as a delivery method and receive Medicaid reimbursement funds.
PresenceLearning (www.presencelearning.com) is the leader in the delivery of clinical services via telehealth. PresenceLearning has provided over one million sessions of live, onlinespeech-language therapy,occupational therapy,behavioral interventions and mental health services,diagnostic services and assessments, andearly childhood services for children with special needs. In 2016, PresenceLearning expanded to serving patients in healthcare organizations with allied health services delivered via telemedicine.