Medicare Mental Health Counseling Bill Is Introduced in the U.S. Senate
Al Guida, Jr., JD, Interim Director,
Legislation introduced March 17 in the U.S. Senate would establish Medicare coverage of licensed professional counselors. The legislation—S.604, the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act—was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R–Wyo.). The legislation would also establish Medicare coverage of licensed marriage and family therapists.
We Need Cosponsors!
Mental health counselors are strongly encouraged to call, write, or email their U.S. Senators to ask them to cosponsor S.604. The more cosponsors we have for the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act, the more likely we are to gain its inclusion in larger Medicare legislation approved by Congress.
Call your senators!
- Call 202–224–3121 (the main U.S. Capitol switchboard).
- Ask to be connected to the office of one of your senators.
- Once connected, ask to speak with the health legislative assistant.
- Say that you would like to ask his or her boss to co-sponsor S.604.
Email your senators!
- Type your U.S. Senator’s name into an Internet search engine.
- Go to his or her website.
- Use the “Contact” function (typically in the upper right hand corner of the home page) to send an email urging cosponsorship of S.604.
We Are at a Critical Crossroads
Yes, Congress has actively considered legislation providing Medicare reimbursement to LPCs for several years now. But Congress is now embroiled in an ongoing debate on everything connected to healthcare reform.
Furthermore, Congress must pass Medicare legislation this year in order to prevent a scheduled 20 percent pay cut for physicians under the program from taking effect on Dec. 31. We need mental health counselor coverage to be part of this Medicare package—and this represents a prime opportunity to achieve our long-sought goals.
AMHCA and ACA (American Counseling Association) worked closely with Senators Wyden and Barrasso to develop and prepare this critically important bipartisan measure.
Please take a moment to call or email your U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.604). This legislation will improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to outpatient mental health care in a cost-effective manner, by establishing coverage of highly-qualified LPCs.