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

Iowa’s licensure requirements follow the standards set by many other states, requiring physicians to be licensed in the state to practice medicine. In Iowa, licensing is made possible for out-of-state practitioners through interstate compacts. Providers offering online mental health services both in-state and out-of-state can do so through telehealth appointments.

Requirements for out-of-state treatment

Iowa requires health practitioners to be licensed in the state of Iowa to provide medical services. To expedite medical licensing across state lines, Iowa has joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). Some special practices, such as physical therapistsnurses, and EMS professionals, have their own interstate compacts.

Emergency licensure

During the COVID-19 emergency, the requirement to be licensed in the state of Iowa to provide telehealth appointments has been lifted for the duration of the emergency period. In addition to this, medical school graduations who haven’t received their licenses to practice may also provide medical care during the emergency, which is currently in effect until 30 days after April 7, 2021.

II. What are the online prescribing regulations in Iowa?

Iowa law IAC 653 lets doctors and patients establish a relationship virtually and allows physicians to prescribe medications through virtual consultations, with some notable restrictions: A medical professional must provide abortion-inducing medications in person. A mental health professional in a school-based setting must obtain parent or guardian permission before initiating a new prescription or altering a current prescription. Pharmacies may not fill prescriptions made only after an online questionnaire. Other policies require physicians to establish a video-based, one-on-one interview before prescribing medications. During the COVID-19 emergency, the interview can also be audio-only, telephone-based communication.

III. What are other common telehealth restrictions in Iowa?

When Iowa enacted its parity law for telehealth services, it only applied to live, face-to-face video communication. The services have been expanded during the COVID-19 emergency, but only to include audio-based telephone communication.

Types of telehealth services allowed

Iowa’s parity law ensures equal reimbursement for live, face-to-face video calls and in-person visits. Store-and-forward and remote monitoring are not included in this statute. Iowa also does not allow reimbursement for email, fax, or audio-only telephone communication. No detailed requirements exist for what would compromise a telehealth visit so that it is comparable to a standard in-person visit. Still, prescribing can only take place after an interview to assess the patient so that the health care profession can offer a diagnosis.

Types of providers allowed to offer telehealth services

Iowa law defines a healthcare professional as a medical professional licensed, registered, accredited, or certified to provide medical services in the state of Iowa. This includes the following list of accepted providers:

  • Physicians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurse-Midwives
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Behavioral Health Service Providers
  • Licensed Independent Social Workers
  • Licensed Master Social Workers
  • Licensed Marital and Family Therapists
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors

Emergency allowances

Under normal circumstances, audio-only telephone communication is not included in the accepted telehealth communication definitions for Iowa. However, during the COVID-19 emergency period, currently in effect until 30 days after April 7, 2021, the requirement for face-to-face communication through video is lifted, and audio-only telephone communication is permitted.

IV. Telehealth provider resources in Iowa

To learn more about finding a health practitioner that provides telehealth services or to learn about the latest telehealth regulations in Iowa, please review these additional resources:

Iowa Department of Health

The Iowa Department of Public Health provides you with important facts about COVID-19 and updated information about emergency proclamations that impact telehealth regulations.

Contact Information: idph.iowa.gov | 515-281-7689

Iowa Medicaid Program

Iowa’s Medicaid website includes information about benefits, eligibility, and enrollment. The resources tab has many helpful resources to find other agencies that might benefit you.

Contact Information: benefits.gov | 515-256-4606

Iowa Department of Human Services

The Iowa Department of Human Services has helpful updates and FAQs about COVID-19 and telehealth, including information about Medicaid. This department may be able to assist you in finding a mental health provider who offers telehealth services.

Contact Information: dhs.iowa.gov | 800-972-2017

V. Sources