Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. John Katko (NY-24) announced they have reintroduced the bipartisan and bicameral Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This bill would expand access to mental health services for seniors by allowing Medicare coverage to include marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors.
“Far too many of our seniors don’t have adequate access to mental health care at a time in their lives when they are at greater risk for mental illnesses. Left unaddressed, this access gap can exacerbate other health problems and increase health costs. This is an unacceptable outcome for our nation’s older Americans,” said Thompson. “That’s why I’ve once again introduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Access to ensure seniors can see a wide range of qualified mental health professionals through their Medicare. This bill is an important piece of ensuring we are providing for the health of our nation’s seniors.”
“I’m proud to join my colleague Rep. Thompson to re-introduce this important bipartisan legislation to improve access to mental healthcare. This measure will not only increase access to care for older Americans in communities nationwide, but it will help alleviate the strain on our nation’s mental health and addiction workforce,” said Katko. “I’ll continue to fight at home in Central New York and in Washington to ensure individuals and families receive the care they need.”
Under current regulations, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses are currently recognized to offer covered mental health services under Medicare. This does not include mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists who have the same training and education but are not able to be reimbursed by Medicare and thus more expensive for seniors. This bill closes that gap by adding those providers to the list of those accessible to Medicare beneficiaries. A bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Barrasso (R-WY).