Ahead of Meeting with City and County Leaders, Luján Highlights Work With Mayor Hull, OSI to Ensure Insurance Providers Cover Behavioral Telehealth Services for New Mexicans

Nambé, N.M. – Ahead of a meeting next week with New Mexico municipal and county leaders, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) highlighted his work with New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal and Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull to ensure that insurers reimburse providers for behavioral health services delivered through telemedicine, as required by the Patient Protection Act.

Mayor Hull worked with Senator Luján’s office following a report from a local behavioral health care provider, Dr. Stacey Goldstein-Dwyer, that insurers were denying insurance claims for behavioral telehealth services. The Senator’s office immediately worked with the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal to issue clarifying language in late February that health insurers cannot apply different standards for telemedicine for physical or behavioral health.

A copy 0f the bulletin issued by the New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance is available HERE.

“Behavioral telehealth services have been a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s crucial for the health and well-being of New Mexicans that insurance providers cover these essential services as they would in-person counseling. New Mexicans shouldn’t have to foot the bill for utilizing these services,” said Luján. “I was proud to work with Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal and Mayor Gregg Hull to uplift the voices of New Mexicans and clarify that insurers must ensure parity of physical and behavioral telehealth services. Like many New Mexicans, I am grateful for our behavioral health providers who have been champions throughout this pandemic.”

“During the pandemic, telehealth services have been essential. OSI is committed to ensuring that these vital services continue to be available to New Mexicans,” said New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have been shown just how important it is to find and utilize new and creative ways to continue services for our citizens,” said Mayor Gregg Hull. “Having regular access to mental health care services is a crucial component to a community’s overall well being. Ensuring that our citizens have uninterrupted access, remotely and virtually, to critical mental health services and support is vital, especially during a time of crisis. I want to thank Senator Luján for his support on this initiative and working with me on behalf of all New Mexicans.”

“As a behavioral healthcare provider, I know that behavioral health services can be crucial and life-saving. During a pandemic that has heightened the demand for behavioral telehealth services, it is unacceptable for patients and providers alike that insurers are failing to cover these telehealth services just as they would any other health service,” said Dr. Stacey Goldstein-Dwyer. “I’m glad that Senator Luján, Mayor Hull, and Insurance Superintendent Toal heard my concerns, worked together, and issued clarifying language to insurers. I’m hopeful that this will make a real difference for New Mexicans.” 

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