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Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition

The Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition is a group of national and state organizations collectively representing hundreds of thousands of mental health and addiction disorder providers, clients, patients, and other stakeholders committed to strengthening Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mental and behavioral health care, building the provider workforce we need, and modernizing coordination of delivery and payment systems for that care.

Coalition goal

To increase access to client choice for mental health provider care by passing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.828/H.R.432).

What the bill does

  • Provides coverage for licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and marriage and family therapist (LMFT) services under Medicare.
  • Authorizes mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to develop discharge plans for post hospital services.

What is the Medicare coverage gap?

Outdated language in current Medicare coverage legislation has resulted in many individuals who rely on Medicare experiencing a variety of challenges to getting the care they need, including:

  • Limited access to more affordable treatment options
  • Lack of continuity of care when individuals in therapy either age into Medicare or become Medicare-eligible due to permanent disability
  • Lack of access to 40% of behavioral health professionals with a master’s degree
  • Barriers to better integration of physical and mental health care
  • Lack of access to coordinated benefits for dual eligible beneficiaries and veterans with Medicare because LPC/MHCs and LMFTs are not recognized as Medicare providers
  • Likelihood of foregoing or discontinuing therapy altogether for individuals living in rural areas with few or no available Medicare providers

The Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 (S. 828/H.R.432) would close the gap in federal law that prevents MHCs/LPCs and LMFTs from being recognized as Medicare providers. The legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries immediate access to over more than 225,000 additional licensed mental health professionals and help close the widening treatment gap. 

A Message from Senator John Barrasso on the importance of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.828)

 

Coalition members

American Counseling Association American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy American Mental Health Counselors Association
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Centerstone
Center for Medicare Advocacy Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors National Board for Certified Counselors National Council for Mental Wellbeing
National Council on Aging    

To learn more about the work of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, email advocacy@counseling.org or call 800-347-6647.

 

Counselor Medicare Usage Survey Results

In a nationwide survey of licensed professional counselors, the American Counseling Association found that up to 115,000 counselors are likely to seek enrollment as Medicare providers — saving the program millions annually — if Congress passes the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.  More than 24,000 licensed professional mental health counselors across all 50 states and in three U.S. territories responded to the ACA survey. A majority (72.4%) said they would be interested in becoming a Medicare provider if allowed. Making counselors eligible to provide services under Medicare would not only increase beneficiaries’ access to care, but would create more opportunities for cost-effective services, helping keep beneficiaries out of more expensive treatment settings like hospitals and emergency rooms. 

For full results and conclusions, see 'Counselors’ Interest in Working With Medicare Beneficiaries: A Survey of Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors.'
 

Additional Medicare Coalition Resources