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I. What are the licensure requirements in Georgia for telehealth mental health care?

Georgia’s licensure requirements state that all telehealth consultations must be performed by Georgia licensed practitioners. A provider must have access to your medical history to deliver telehealth services and have seen or examined you personally or be providing care at the request of a provider who has. Finally, providers must conduct telehealth examinations using technology or peripherals equal or superior to an in-person standard of care.

Requirements for out-of-state treatment

Under the law, you may only see a Georgia-licensed practitioner for telehealth in Georgia. However, Georgia recently joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, an agreement among member states to help make the licensing process smoother for qualified providers who want to practice in multiple states.

Emergency licensure

Georgia has some procedures in place for emergency licensure. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Georgia Composite Medical Board announced that it would approve and issue emergency practice permits to physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, and respiratory care professionals who are licensed in another state. These permits are valid until the current state of emergency is lifted by the governor.

II. What are the online prescribing regulations in Georgia?

In Georgia, providers are permitted to prescribe medications during telehealth consultations. This ensures that patients have continued access to all necessary medications even when attending an office appointment isn’t possible. However, providers can’t prescribe controlled substances or dangerous drugs based solely on a telehealth visit unless they’re on-call or covering for another provider who has seen you previously. In that case, they can prescribe up to a 72-hour supply of these medications without you needing to come in. If you or a family member need access to medication for attention deficit disorder (ADD), there are special exceptions for those drugs as they are considered controlled substances.

III. What are other common telehealth restrictions in Georgia?

Your provider must be currently enrolled in the Georgia Medicaid program to provide telehealth services to Medicaid members. The Medicaid program also requires providers to get your written consent before a telemedicine visit. During the COVID-19 crisis, this requirement has been waived, and a provider only needs to obtain your verbal consent to schedule a telehealth appointment.

Types of telehealth services allowed

Depending on your insurance carrier, several service methods are permitted. Medicaid reimburses for live video and some store-and-forward communications, specifically X-rays and ultrasounds. You can’t use a fax machine, audio-only telephone or text messages. Private payers follow Medicaid’s lead, allowing live video with two-way interaction and limited store-and-forward.. There is some mention of remote monitoring for private insurance plans, which Medicaid doesn’t address.

Types of providers allowed to offer telehealth services

Although Georgia was an early leader in telehealth medicine, not all health care providers are permitted to provide telehealth services under Georgia law. Providers who are eligible to offer telemental and telehealth services include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse-midwives
  • Clinical nurses specialists
  • Nurse anesthetists
  • Dentists and dental hygienists
  • Clinical psychologists and clinical social workers
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Audiologists
  • Dietitians and nutrition professionals

Providers must be licensed in Georgia. If they want to treat Medicaid patients, they must be currently enrolled in the Georgia Medicaid program.

Emergency allowances

Georgia Medicaid typically requires both you and your provider to be present at certain specified locations during a telehealth visit, which include provider offices, hospitals, and rural health clinics. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia Medicaid has temporarily waived any restrictions on originating sites and distant sites. The rules were modified again to include patient homes as eligible originating sites and permit audio-only phone calls.

Georgia Medicaid also expanded the list of eligible practitioners who may provide telehealth consultations and treatment while the crisis is still ongoing. This list includes certified nurse anesthetists, licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, and therapists (PT, ST, and OT). It’s not known if these changes may become permanent.

Georgia has also permitted DEA-registered practitioners to prescribe controlled substances based on telemedicine appointments during the COVID-19 crisis.

IV. Telehealth provider resources in Georgia

Telehealth in Georgia is changing rapidly. Georgia was an early adopter of the technology, and the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted frequent changes and advances in the state’s telehealth laws. You can review the following resources to learn more about the current telemental and telehealth regulations in Georgia.

Georgia Department of Public Health Office of Telehealth and Telemedicine

The Georgia DPH has established a large, state-wide telemedicine network recognized as one of the most comprehensive and robust in the nation. The Office of Telehealth and Telemedicine website has more information about the network and provider resources.

Contact Information: Website | 404-657-2700

Center for Connected Health Policy

The CCHP helps you stay informed about telehealth-related laws and regulations, including those relevant to each state’s Medicaid program. The website lets you search for up-to-date information by topic.

Contact Information: Website | 877- 707-7172

Georgia Composite Medical Board

You can visit the Georgia Composite Medical Board to look up licensed providers or file a complaint. You can search by name, license, specialty, or city. The site also has tips on choosing a doctor, FAQs, and up-to-date licensure guidelines.

Contact Information: Website | 404-656-3913

V. Sources