The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announced that as a “direct result of its advocacy efforts in recent weeks, and relationships built through ASHA’s Private Payer Summit over the past two years,” UnitedHealthcare (UHC) will expand telepractice coverage for speech-language pathology services nationwide across all lines of business, including commercial plans, Medicaid Managed Care, and Medicare Advantage plans. This decision alone extends telepractice access to roughly 45 million Americans.

In its announcement, ASHA “acknowledges UHC’s leadership in recognizing the need for expanding telepractice coverage, and the value that speech-language pathologists bring to their beneficiaries.” UHC announced the coverage expansion on Friday, March 27, 2020, and shared additional UHC guidance for speech-language pathology and therapy services.

ASHA also announces that Cigna has expanded nationwide coverage for telepractice and Humana has announced Tricare coverage of telepractice in their eastern region.

ASHA reports it is “optimistic” that additional payers will expand telepractice coverage mandates in the coming days and weeks.

ASHA continues advocating for Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to obtain expanded coverage of telepractice services for Medicare. To date, ASHA’s advocacy “has resulted in broader flexibility for Medicare Advantage plans to expand coverage.”

ASHA will continue to provide updates as developments warrant. Information on confirmed changes of health plan coverage for Medicaid and private health plans may be found on ASHA’s web page for telepractice resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions?

For questions regarding coverage and payment, contact reimbursment@asha.org. For questions regarding clinical practice, contact healthservices@asha.org.

For general ASHA resources for members related to COVID-19, visit ASHA’s website for the latest updates and resources. 

Source: ASHA, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, Humana