Monday, 01 March 2021

Thompson, Katko introduce Mental Health Access Improvement Act to expand access to mental health care for seniors

On Thursday, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. John Katko (NY-24) announced the reintroduction of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.

This bipartisan bill addresses the mental health care gap for seniors by expanding the network of providers that can deliver mental and behavioral health services to Medicare beneficiaries.

“Often seniors are at a greater risk for mental illnesses and can find it hard to get access to the mental health services they need. That’s why I’ve reintroduced my bill to help close the gap for seniors by allowing them to see a wider range of qualified mental health care providers through Medicare,” said Thompson. “When we address these mental health care needs, we help ensure they don’t lead to greater health problems that can be costly for our nation’s seniors. I am glad to again introduce this important bill and to continue my work caring for the health and well-being of older Americans.”

“I’m proud to join my colleague Rep. Thompson in re-introducing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This important bipartisan legislation would improve access to mental healthcare for older Americans and alleviate the strain on our nation’s mental health and addiction treatment workforce,” said Katko. “At home in Central New York and in Congress, I’ll continue fighting to ensure individuals and families have access to 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.

You can click here to read the full text of the bill, first introduced in January 2013.

Thompson represents California’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

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