Behavioral Health 

  • IN 20-009 - Guidance on COVID-19 for Behavioral Health. This Information Notice covers:   

  • Behavioral Health services via telephone and telehealth   

  • Adapting oversight requirements to prioritize patient needs and accommodate workforce challenges   

  • Access to prescription medications   

  • Alcohol and other drug (AOD) residential and outpatient treatment facilities: applications and admissions deadlines   

  • Process to request fee reductions or waivers   

  • Canceling meetings and gatherings to prevent COVID-19 transmission.   

  • Counties may use MHSA funding to pay for services provided via telephone or telehealth as long as the services provided are consistent with the MHSA requirements and are not able to be covered by any other source of funding.  

  • DHCS Section 1135 Waiver Request For COVID-19 Flexibilities  DHCS has submitted a request to the federal government waiver to Cover Medi-Cal Recipients and Expand Tele-Health Options. This request covers :   

  • Waive DMC-ODS requirements DMC-ODS billing manual contracts to allow flexibility of documentation requirements, including timelines related to review of medical necessity and suspend financial disallowances for noncompliance with documentation standards, including but not limited to missing client signatures on treatment plans, lack of documentation of consent for telehealth consult.  

  • Flexibility to allow for virtual/telephonic communication/telehealth modalities for covered State plan benefits, including but not limited to Behavioral Health Treatment, where medically appropriate and feasible.  

  • Waiver of limitations on who can prescribe certain covered Medi-Cal benefits, such as: nonemergency medical transportation (42 C.F.R. §440.170, to allow licensed practitioners to prescribe instead of only a physician, podiatrist, or dentist)  

  • Waiver of State Plan Attachment 3.1 B (p.17) which limits dispensing of a covered drug up to a 100-day supply. DHCS is requesting authority to temporarily suspend these limitations for all drugs, excluding narcotics/opioids  

  • Waiver of face-to-face encounter requirement for reimbursement for FQHCs, RHCs, and Tribal 638 Clinics relative to covered services via telehealth provided by clinic providers.   

  • It is unclear if the waiver will be approved in its entirely.    

  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline  : On their landing page, DHCS refers beneficiaries to the disaster distress line for mental health support. Unfortunately, they offer services in other languages, but access to language support is not easily accessible via the interactive voice response. The interactive voice response only allows beneficiaries to choose either English or Spanish. I urged them to update their interactive voice response to communicate availability of in-language services.   

  • This analysis is incomplete as things are moving quickly, so please use your best judgement if sharing externally.  

Oral Health  

  • The California Dental Association (CDA) issued strong recommendations that dentists voluntarily suspend non-urgent or non-emergency dental care for the next 14 days.