Federal Telehealth Policy Changes During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Associations with Telemental Health Use among Rural and Urban Medicare Beneficiaries

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MRHRC, mental health, behavioral health, Rural, telemental health, COVID-19, policy, Medicare beneficiaries

Publication Title

Journal of Rural Health


The authors examined 2019–2020 Medicare claims data to compare rural versus urban patterns of change in telemental health use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors found that telemental health mitigated barriers to mental health services during the pandemic, but were disproportionately beneficial to urban residents. They conclude that to avoid reinforcing existing mental health service access disparities, policies must address factors that limit telemental health use among rural Medicare beneficiaries, especially those over 75 and those from historically underserved communities.

For more information on this study, please contact Jean Talbot, PhD at jean.talbot@maine.edu


This study was supported by the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number 6 U3GRH40003-01-03. The information and conclusions in this brief are those of the authors and no inferred endorsement by OAT, HRSA, or HHS.

Funding Organization

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT)

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