On behalf of our members and all federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), Advocates for Community Health is thrilled with the recent news from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing they will begin reimbursing FQHCs for telehealth mental health visits, including audio-only visits. This represents an encouraging step towards health equity and increased access to care for patients in need.
As hyper-local health care hubs that provide comprehensive services to millions of Americans, our members bring a combination of urgent and primary care to marginalized populations and, on average, 10% of FQHC patients are Medicare beneficiaries. For these patients, telehealth visits are often the safest and most convenient option. Additionally, mental health support is more necessary now than ever as the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact our most vulnerable communities.
We believe that community health centers are poised to lead the way in building a community-based continuum of care that can change how we deliver services to patients in need. To do so, our nation’s leaders will need to prioritize investments in innovations that increase access to care, quality of care, and patient outcomes. We are encouraged by this announcement and CMS’ commitment to improving access to care for all Americans. We look forward to continuing to work with CMS and federal policymakers to pursue innovative solutions that improve the health outcomes of the communities we serve.