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

Kentucky’s licensure requirements are comparable to many other states. They state that health care professionals must be licensed in Kentucky to provide telehealth services. Kentucky has also made licensing easy for out-of-state practitioners to provide services by entering interstate licensure compacts. You can also obtain telemental services through telehealth appointments with both in-state and out-of-state providers.

Requirements for out-of-state treatment

To expedite the telehealth process for out-of-state doctors, Kentucky has joined the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. You can have telemental appointments with psychiatrists, therapists, and other mental health practitioners who practice in other states under these regulations. Kentucky is also a part of nursing and physical therapy compacts.

Emergency licensure

During COVID-19, Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill waiving the requirement for medical professionals to be licensed by state regulators to provide you with health care services. According to the law, the health emergency will continue until the governor decrees that it has ended, so there is no current expiration date for the COVID-19 health emergency.

II. What are the online prescribing regulations in Kentucky?

To prescribe medications online, physicians in Kentucky must establish a doctor-patient relationship with you, which may be done through virtual telehealth platforms. The process for establishing this relationship includes a diagnosis through accepted medical practices and maintenance of current medical records. Evaluations, such as an online or electronic questionnaire or audio-only telephone interview, do not qualify as accepted medical practices. There are some notable exceptions to these guidelines, such as speech-language pathology and audiology, which require an in-person first visit to establish the relationship. Abortions also cannot be done through telehealth in Kentucky.

III. What are other common telehealth restrictions in Kentucky?

Kentucky restricts telehealth appointments to live, two-way interactive video and audio that offers some HIPAA privacy protections. The COVID-19 emergency provisions have expanded this for Medicaid patients to include audio-only telephone calls.

Types of telehealth services allowed

Kentucky law defines telehealth as two-way, real-time interactive video and audio for the purposes of reimbursement for your doctor’s visits. This definition does not include audio-only telephone communication or other non-video means of digital contact such as email. Kentucky Medicaid does cover store-and-forward services, but only when this includes live video communication between the medical health professionals involved with the asynchronous interaction and digital file transfer. Remote monitoring is not included except in the case of value-based payment arrangements.

Types of providers allowed to offer telehealth services

Kentucky allows a wide variety of health professionals to offer telehealth services. The specific medical professionals eligible to provide you with services outside of a community mental health center include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Licensed clinical social workers directly employed by a psychiatrist
  • Psychologists with a license and a doctorate in psychology directly employed by a psychiatrist
  • Licensed professional clinical counselors directly employed by a psychiatrist
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists directly employed by a psychiatrist
  • Physicians
  • APRNs
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Licensed dietitians or certified nutritionists
  • Registered nurses or dietitians

Emergency allowances

The Kentucky Department of Medicaid Services is temporarily allowing audio-only telephone telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 emergency, but only in specified circumstances.

IV. Telehealth provider resources in Kentucky

For updates and more information about regulations that impact telemental and telehealth services in Kentucky, you can take advantage of these additional resources.

Department of Public Health

The Kentucky Department of Health is a resource for you to learn about regulations and updates related to COVID-19 that might impact your telehealth access in the state of Kentucky and other health-related information.

Contact Information: Website | 502-564-3970

Department of Medicaid Services

The Kentucky Department of Medicaid Services provides information about your enrollment, benefits, and eligibility for Medicaid services. You can also use the resource to find out if you are entitled to the expanded presumptive eligibility during the COVID-19 emergency period (coverage includes residents under the age of 65 who do not currently have health insurance).

Contact Information: Website | 800-635-2570

Office of Health Data and Analytics

The Office of Health Data and Analytics operates the Telehealth Program and can give you helpful information regarding the laws and regulations that govern telehealth. The resource also answers frequently asked questions.

Contact Information: Website | 502-564-0105, ext. 2421

V. Sources