Emerging Lessons and Policy Options for STI Telehealth Payment: A Narrative Review

Document Type

Journal Article

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Sexually transmitted diseases




Long before the SARS-CoV-2 (hereafter COVID-19) pandemic, sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention and control was under-resourced in the United States, leading to large and sustained increases in reportable STIs and harmful sequelae of these infections. The abrupt disruption associated with the national shutdown of many public services in early 2020 forced STI clinics and programs to rapidly adopt new models of care, including the greatly increased use of telehealth services. Federal policymakers took actions to relax many requirements in Medicare and other programs that previously impeded the use of telehealth. Numerous states also adopted emergency policies to facilitate the delivery of telehealth services through Medicaid, many of which are related to payment for services. It is unresolved whether, and which policies, will or should be extended after the public health emergency. How these services are financed and reimbursed underpins the ability to effectively prevent and treat STIs and improve public health. Ultimately, payment systems need to support the solvency and stability of sexual health clinics and other health care services organizations in ways that support providers and that also improve patient satisfaction and retention in care. CDC and state/local health departments have important roles to play in supporting the dialogue needed to create new payment models and facilitate communication and technical assistance across public health and insurance systems. Sexual health providers must be engaged in iterative processes that continue to evolve and can be evaluated over time.


Health Policy and Management