In line with the 2022 CMS Behavioral Health Strategy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is strengthening access to vital behavioral health services for Medicare beneficiaries by allowing behavioral health clinicians like licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists to offer services under general (rather than direct) supervision of the Medicare practitioner.
Medicare will pay Opioid Treatment Programs that use telecommunications with clients to initiate treatment with buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Opioid Use Disorder as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT). As with all medications used in MAT, buprenorphine should be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and other behavioral therapies to provide clients with a whole-person approach.
CMS is also clarifying that Opioid Treatment Programs can bill for opioid use disorder treatment services provided through mobile units, such as vans, in accordance with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) guidance. These policies may increase access in rural and other underserved communities.
In addition, CMS is finalizing policies to pay for clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers to furnish integrated behavioral health care as part of a primary care team. Finally, Medicare will provide a new monthly payment for comprehensive treatment and management services for clients with chronic pain. These new services offer a whole-person method to care.
This is a step in the right direction toward full Medicare coverage for licensed professional counselors, however we still have work to do. The fight is not over! Continue to advocate for passage of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R.432/S.828) by contacting your member of Congress and letting them know how crucial this legislation is for those in need of greater access to mental health services.
If you would like to become involved in ACA’s advocacy efforts, please contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.