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General Assembly Passes Bill Supporting Behavioral Telehealth Services

Measures on ID badge flexibility, sexual assault reporting also approved

July 08, 2022

Legislation to enhance Pennsylvanians’ access to behavioral health services via telehealth is one step away from becoming law.

The state Senate Thursday night passed House Bill 2419, sending the measure to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature. Sponsored by Representative Tina Pickett (R-Bradford), the bill supports access to behavioral health services both by permanently authorizing services to be delivered via telehealth and by modernizing psychiatric supervisory time requirements to extend the reach of providers.

HAP has advocated for the legislation, calling behavioral telehealth a literal lifeline at a time when Pennsylvanians are struggling to access the care they need amid a shortage of behavioral health services and providers.

“Telehealth has increased the reach of existing providers, allowing patients to be seen by high-quality professionals who may not otherwise have been available due to geographic, transportation, or other logistical barriers,” HAP wrote in a March letter to lawmakers.

The measure was one of several priorities for hospitals and the health care community lawmakers approved Thursday night. Also headed to the governor’s desk are:

  • House Bill 2604, sponsored by Representative Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill), which provides flexibility around how facility names appear on health care ID badges, allowing health systems and registered names with the Department of State to be used instead of just licensed facilities. HAP advocated for the measure, noting that current requirements are burdensome to hospital systems, the staff of which routinely provide services at multiple facilities.
  • House Bill 2032, sponsored by Representative Meghan Schroeder (R-Bucks), clarifies that when a person requests to remain anonymous when seeking medical care for sexual assault, the health care provider is not required to report the assault injuries under state law unless the patient has suffered a wound injury that caused death, serious bodily injury, or was inflicted by a deadly weapon. HAP urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it would help providers deliver skilled, trauma-informed health care to victims while remaining compliant with professional obligations under the law.

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.