Mental Health Access Improvement Act and the Improving Access to Mental Health Act
Under current Medicare law, unnecessary barriers to care are impeding older adults’ access to needed mental health and substance use treatment services provided by clinical social workers (CSWs), mental health counselors (MHCs), and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) — all trained and licensed mental health professionals. Of particular concern, older adults are losing access to needed mental health services when they transition from living in the community to a nursing home environment. At the same time, older adults are at the highest risk for mental health conditions, such as depression and suicide, yet they are the least likely to receive mental health services and access to care varies widely across the country.
JFNA is supporting two separate bipartisan, bicameral measures being considered by Congress that offer sensible solutions to expanding and improving access to mental health care and substance use treatment for Medicare beneficiaries. Both of these measures will significantly expand the mental health workforce available to care for Medicare beneficiaries.
- The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 286/H.R. 945): Sponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), this bill would make mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists eligible Medicare providers.
- The Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S. 782/H.R. 1533): Sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Barrasso (R-WY) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), this bill would increase access to services provided by licensed clinical social workers in Medicare.
If your agency has an interest in this issue or shares similar concerns, please contact Elizabeth Cullen, Counsel for Health Policy with the Jewish Federations of North America’s Strategic Health Resource Center by Thursday, November 3rd at (202) 736-5887.