Congresswoman Luria Calls on Defense Health Agency to Cover Mental Telehealth Services Under TRICARE

June 1, 2020
Press Release

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Congresswoman Luria joined a bipartisan group to call on Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery to allow mental telehealth services to be covered under TRICARE during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth services have been critical in providing patient treatment while states remain under various degrees of stay-at-home orders, particularly mental health services.

“During this pandemic, it is imperative that we give our servicemembers and their families access to the mental health resources and services they need,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “With so many people seeking out mental health treatment through telehealth services, it is imperative that we give our servicemembers and their families the same access to this critical tool. TRICARE must update its policy regarding mental telehealth services to expand access during these trying times.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already made telehealth widely available during this pandemic by permitting Medicare to pay for office, hospital, audio only, and other health care visits complete via telehealth. Yet, TRICARE only allows servicemembers and families combating serious mental illnesses to access more intensive outpatient treatment, forcing many to choose between their physical health and their mental health and wellbeing.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends increased use of telehealth services as we continue to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Telehealth services covered under TRICARE would include elemental health services at all outpatient levels of care, such as intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), and ensure payment parity for telehealth visits.

The letter can be read here.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.