Free Market

Improving Access to Mental Health Services in Utah

During the pandemic, countless Utahns needed medical care but did not have the luxury of being able to go to a doctor’s office to receive treatment. A good alternative that emerged was the ability of Utahns to use telehealth services. Telehealth services leverage the use of technology to provide long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.

Telehealth services offer a good option for Utahns to get a first opinion before leaving the house to visit with a doctor, which takes up lots of time, and is a good option for Utahns looking to get an opinion without having to leave the home.

This is a great use of technology, and Utah should look to continue to leverage the use of telehealth services to increase access to medical treatments. Mental health treatments were one area that particularly benefitted from having the ability to leverage telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were in need of such services.

Senator Luz Escamilla recognized the clear benefits telehealth could provide to mental health services and ran Senate Bill 41 during this year’s legislative session to ensure that Utahns would not lose access to telehealth services to get the treatment they needed.

Basically, the bill says that if an individual needs mental health treatment, they can do it through telehealth so long as their current plan provides coverage for those kinds of services and the service being provided can meet the appropriate standard of care. It is a very simple bill that takes a step in the right direction by ensuring that Utahns have multiple options available to access the medical services they need.

The bill received wide support as it went through the legislative process, passing the Senate unanimously and passing the House with only one no vote. Governor Cox signed the bill into law on March 2nd, 2021.