Telepsychiatry in California

Telepsychiatry can be used to augment behavioral health services in a variety of facilities including hospitals, federally qualified health centers, community clinics, correctional facilities, outpatient offices, primary care offices, crisis centers, schools, geriatric facilities and more. 

Recently Passed Legislation 

  • CA AB 744 
    • Shall not require that in-person contact occur between a provider and a patient before payment is made for the covered service 
    • Shall require that contracts issue or renewed on or after January 1, 2021 shall reimburse for telehealth services on the same basis and to the same extent as the same service in-person 

Reimbursement 

  • Medicaid 
    • California Medicaid (Medi-Cal) will reimburse for services provided via live video at the same rate as the comparable in-person service 
  • Medicare 
    • Medicare only reimburses for telehealth services that are provided to a patient at one of 11 outlined originating sites and that site has to be located in a health professional shortage area (HPSA) or a county outside a metropolitan statistical area (MSA).  
  • Private Payers 
    • California’s telemedicine parity law mandates private payer reimbursement 

Telemedicine Prescribing 

  • Providers are prohibited from prescribing or dispensing dangerous drugs or dangerous devices on the Internet without an appropriate prior examination and medical indication, which can be achieved via telemedicine. 

Cross State Licensing 

  • Clinicians need to hold a California license in order to provide telepsychiatry services to patients located in California. 
  • California is not a member of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) 
  • California is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) 

Helpful Resources