Expanding access to telehealth services as the pandemic has forced more interactions into a virtual world is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2021 agenda, he announced on Sunday. 

Cuomo's proposal will be part of his State of the State, to be given on Monday in a virtual setting at the state Capitol.

"While New York State has been on the cutting edge of promoting telehealth for its residents, the adoption of telehealth by both patients and providers has been slow," Cuomo said. 

"COVID-19 has changed not only the way we live, but the way healthcare providers support their patients, especially in regard to mental health. New Yorkers have adapted throughout 2020, but it is time to push telehealth to the next level in New York State and fully integrate it into our existing healthcare system. These proposals will better allocate our healthcare and technological resources for the 21st century."

Among the measures Cuomo wants: Making regulatory and statutory changes that would allow for greater flexibility when patients use telehealth services such as requiring Medicaid to offer reimbursement for services rendered to patients who use the method. 

Cuomo will call for commercial health insurance companies to be required to offer telehealth program services to their members and provide Medicaid coverage, subject to federal approval. 

And providers would be required to disclose to patients in writing or through websites whether they provide telehealth services. 

In a separate announcement on Sunday, Cuomo called for an overhaul of the state Department of Health's Office of Professional Medical Conduct. The proposal is meant to ensure the office is able to effectively investigate and discipline state-license doctors, physician assistants and medical assistants while also providing updated information on the status of a professional license.