Medicare

Find Your Member of Congress

We encourage you to contact your two Senators and your Congressional Member in the House of Representatives, to express your support for the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.  Please use the bill numbers in all your communications.

FIND YOUR SENATOR


FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE


Affect_Public_Policy.png

Help Us Advocate for You

Help keep our advocacy efforts strong by donating to AMHCA. Your donation goes a long way in helping us maximize our efforts as well as sustaining and improving our array of member benefits. Donate now and join our cause to enhance the profession of clinical mental health counseling through advocacy, education and collaboration.


Mental Health Access Improvement Act

September 9, 2020
House Committee Passes Mental Health Counselor Medicare Legislation

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved HR 945 in an historic vote supporting Medicare coverage for the counseling profession. While this legislation has passed both the House and Senate twice over the years, never before has the bill been voted on as a standalone measure rather than part of a broader package.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr’s (D-NJ) opening remarks described HR 945 as “bipartisan legislation that would improve access to mental health providers in the Medicare program by covering mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist services.”

The sponsors of HR 945, Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), fought hard for inclusion of the legislation in the markup. They worked closely with committee staff and Members to build support for passage. Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) also pushed for the bill, speaking on its behalf at the markup calling it a “blessing” and stating that “passage is a priority to me.” The Committee reported the bill to the full House by voice vote.

The future of HR 945 in this Congress is difficult to forecast. There are limited legislative workdays before Members leave for campaigning in October, although there is expected to be a post-election lame duck session that may provide additional opportunity. Further, a Senate calendar packed with COVID relief legislation and annual appropriations is offering little room for movement of our Senate companion bill, S. 286.

While the President’s signature cannot be guaranteed in the 116th Congress, this historic vote shouldn’t be underestimated. There remain paths for passage this year, and even if success is elusive, the Committee approval strengthens the chance for approval in the next Congress when mental health legislation is anticipated.

AMHCA thanks all members and leaders who contacted your Representatives in support of HR 945. We wouldn’t have been successful without your efforts and urge you to keep up the good work when we make our next push. We also encourage you to contact your Representatives, particularly our champions, to thank them for their support. You can use the following link to find your Representative with email and phone numbers: Find my Representative



Sample Communications

Communication to Senators S. 286

Letter #1

Letter #2

Letter #3

Sample Communications

Communication to Representatives HR. 945

Letter #1

Letter #2

Letter #3

Seniors Need Mental Health Counselors

Talking Points

There are four main talking points for advocates to share on social media and in their phone calls. While the issue can be very complex, the talking points are designed to be clear statements in order to allow you, your colleagues and your network to feel comfortable showing your support for this legislation during your calls to Congressional offices.

  • Studies show that 730 thousand Seniors on Medicare are at risk for opioid addiction.
  • The incidence of alcohol abuse among the elderly has doubled.
  • Unfortunately though, there’s a shortage of mental health and substance abuse providers in the Medicare system to help these seniors at risk.
  • The Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act would expand the availability of cost-effective providers under Medicare to help treat these Seniors and address the opioid epidemic.

Resources

In July AMHCA sponsored a Capitol Hill Briefing entitled "Access to Mental Health Care in Rural America: A Crisis in the Making for Seniors and People with Disabilities." The covered mental health professionals recognized by Medicare presently include psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health clinical nurse specialists, and clinical social workers. Mental health counselors are not listed as Medicare-covered providers despite the fact that licensed mental health counselors have education, training, and practice rights equivalent to or greater than existing covered providers.

Overview of the Problem

Targeting High Cost/High Need Utilizers in Medicare

Consequences of Untreated Older Adults

Substance Use Among the Elderly

Health-Related Challenges Facing Rural America

 

Advocacy_PPWFY_FullWidth.png