Posted: December 26, 2022
Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after his provisions on marriage and family therapists and telehealth were included in the government funding bill.
“Access to health care is essential to the wellbeing of our community in the wake of COVID-19,” said Thompson. “I’ve long supported policies that increase access to care, including expanding the number of mental health care providers to Medicare beneficiaries and extending the expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies, which I secured in the government funding bill, will help our communities receive the care they need, particularly in underserved and hard-to-reach areas.”
Rep. Thompson authored H.R. 945 to provide for permanent Medicare coverage of mental health services provided by mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. This would expand the number of mental health providers available to Medicare beneficiaries, as many seniors cannot access the care they need as either they live a long way from a provider, or the providers in their area are overbooked.
Rep. Thompson also authored legislation authorizing the expansion of telehealth during the COVID pandemic. That was signed into law as part of the very first COVID-19 relief bill. That expansion was tied to the declaration of a Public Health Emergency, a declaration that is expected to expire in the coming months. Rep. Thompson has led for years H.R. 2903, the CONNECT for Health Act, which would make telehealth a permanent part of Medicare. The government funding includes this bill, except instead of permanence, it is 2 years of further coverage. This enables Medicare beneficiaries to continue receiving remote services while studies are done on how and to what effect telehealth is used.