Logo for IAMFT showing the outline of the state of Illinois and saying Illinois Affiliation of Marriage and Family Therapists

Photo showing attendees viewing posters at the annual IAMFT conference

Legislative Update

Telehealth emerged as one of the unexpected heroes during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Last March, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-09 which extended Telehealth benefits to all commercial health insurance plans. We witnessed a much-needed improvement in access to systemic therapy. More importantly, we are able to continue our work while limiting the spread of COVID-19. This flexibility, however, is at risk. Illinois is one of only a few states that do not have a Telehealth Parity Law. When Governor Pritzker rescinds his emergency declaration, insurance companies will, once again, have unchecked latitude on providing Telehealth benefits and how to reimburse providers.

IAMFT has learned that Telehealth Parity will be considered during the new legislative session beginning January 14th. The House’s Mental Health and Insurance Committees plan to introduce a parity bill. What is parity? A Telehealth Parity Law will equate Telehealth with face-to-face psychotherapy, and the advantages are very clear. To name a few, current access to Telehealth psychotherapy will continue. Populations that may have difficulty securing affordable transportation to sessions will have more flexibility. The overall convenience will help busy clients attend sessions. MFTs will be able to use any HIPAA-compliant platform for sessions, and insurance companies will reimburse providers at in-person psychotherapy rates.

How can you help? Please contact Governor Pritzker, today, thanking him for Executive Order 2020-09 (Please see link below on how to email the Governor). Please share stories of how Telehealth benefited clients during the pandemic, and please encourage him to renew this order. Also, please ask the governor to call on state legislators to pass a Telehealth Parity bill. Also, pick up the telephone and call your state representative and senator. Share, too, how Telehealth has benefited your clients, and ask that the General Assembly passes a Telehealth Parity bill. Please note, Parity means that Telehealth is equated to in-person psychotherapy sessions, providers can use any HIPAA-compliant platform, and providers are reimbursed at in-person session rates.

An IAMFT Director recently attended a legislative advocacy meeting led by the Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAN.org). A key point was made about advocacy: Lawmakers and insurance companies value the opinions from constituents and customers over professional organizations and lobbyists. Please encourage your clients to share their Telehealth stories with their legislators and health insurance companies. If a client liked Telehealth, a simple call to their plan and lawmaker will go a long way. We’ve included a resource to help clients communicate their opinions to lawmakers and health insurance companies. If you desire to be more involved with advocacy, please consider joining organizations like PsiAN. Membership is free, and you have access to additional advocacy resources and updates.

In closing, IAMFT would like to assure all members that we are aware of the current insurance concerns you are facing. We are currently collaborating with other professional organizations and advocacy groups to meet this parity challenge. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

The IAMFT Board of Directors

Contact Governor Pritzker
How to Advocate for Telehealth