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Telehealth expansion in New Hampshire could become permanent after pandemic

By Staff | Jun 6, 2020

CONCORD (AP) – The temporary expansion of telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic would become permanent under a bill endorsed Thursday by a Senate committee.

As passed by the House in March, the bill would allow reimbursement for medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders conducted via telehealth. But an amendment recommended by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee would also make permanent the provisions of Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency order on telehealth, which allowed all health care providers to offer services remotely and required insurers to cover them.

Officials representing hospitals, community health centers, dentists and mental health providers all told the committee that telehealth has been a valuable tool during the pandemic and should continue.

“As many experts have predicted, telehealth is here to stay, which is why this legislation is so important to ensure patients are able to get the right care at the right time in the right setting, which ultimately may be in the safety of their own homes,” said Paula Minnehan of the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

Ken Norton, director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said telehealth has greatly expanded access to mental health treatment.

“We can’t go back,” he said.

Other coronavirus developments in New Hampshire:

WEDDING PLANS

Brides, grooms, and wedding planners told a task force on reopening New Hampshire’s economy Thursday they need to know if they can go ahead with their plans, or risk losing thousands of dollars.

“It is killing us mentally and emotionally to not know,” one bride told the group during a public comment session. One groom who was supposed to get married in May asked if the state could allow social distancing for dining outside of restaurants, why couldn’t the same be done for weddings?

“We are running out of time to save the 2020 season, which also means we are running out of time to save this industry without significant financial help,” said Hilary Gallagher, of the New Hampshire Coalition of Wedding Vendors.

The task force sent its recommended guidance for how weddings and other large catered events could be held to public health officials and Gov. Chris Sununu on May 19.

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