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Action Alert: Medicare Recognition of Mental Health Counselors

Tuesday, December 17, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Whitney Meyerhoeffer
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AMHCA has long sought bipartisan support for its Medicare provider status legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and on December 5, 2013, HR.3662 was introduced by our new sponsors Rep. Chris Gibson (R–NY) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D–CA). The House bill contains language identical to that used in the Senate version, S.562 (Wyden/Barrasso), which amends Medicare to add the outpatient services of licensed mental health counselors (“LMHCs”) and licensed marriage and family therapists (“LMFTs”) under part B of the Medicare program.

Action Requested:
Now is the time to contact your House member to show their support HR. 3662 and request they cosponsor the bill. Here is the information on contacting your Representative and a sample e-mail message for a Representative.
Download sample text in Word
Download sample text as PDF

Background:

  • Lack of Access: Approximately 77 million older adults live in 3,000 mental health professional shortage areas. Fully 50 percent of rural counties in America have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. Many of these mental health professional shortage areas have LMHCs whose services are underutilized due to the lack of Medicare coverage.
  • Medicare Inefficiency: Currently, Medicare is a very inefficient purchaser of mental health services. Inpatient psychiatric hospital utilization by Medicare beneficiaries is extraordinarily high when compared to psychiatric hospitalization rates for patients covered by Medicaid, VA, TRICARE, and private health insurance. One third of these expensive inpatient placements are caused by clinical depression and addiction disorders that can be treated for much lower costs when detected early through the outpatient mental health services of LMHCs.
  • Underserved Minority Populations: The United State Surgeon General noted in a report entitled "Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity," that "striking disparities in access, quality, and availability of mental health services exist for racial and ethnic minority Americans." A critical result of this disparity is that minority communities bear a disproportionately high burden of disability from untreated or inadequately treated mental disorders.

Inquiries, contact James K. Finley, AMHCA associate executive director, at 703-548-6002 ext.105 or jfinley@amhca.org


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