The use of telehealth services by those who receive benefits under the Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs increased greatly as restrictions on gatherings were put in place more than a year ago, a report released Thursday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

The report underscores the reliance of health care providers and patients put in telehealth during the pandemic as lawmakers have called for legislation meant to encourage more reimbursements for those services even after the crisis ends. 

The report found telehealth visits rose to 208,506 visits in March of last year among Medicaid and Child Health Plus recipients just as pandemic rules were being put in place for in-person visits in offices. By April, telehealth reached a record 707,588 monthly visits. That month, the usage rate was 102 telehealth visits per 1,000 beneficiaries, compared to less than 1 per 1,000 beneficiaries before March 2020. 

But as the restrictions were eased, telehealth did decline steadily from 292,237 visits in October to 41,767 in November. Still, the November visits were nevertheless eight times greater than the previous January. 

Adults age 25 through 64 accounted for more than half of the telehealth visits during the March through November period, the report found.