In January 2021, Representative Mike Thompson introduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R. 432) that, among other things, would authorize Medicare payment for covered mental health and substance use services provided by licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) and licensed mental health counselors (LMHC.
The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Health in February 2021 where it has languished. However, recently, for the first time ever, the President’s budget recommended MFTs and MHCs be included as Medicare-eligible providers. This is a significant development and makes it more likely that some Members of Congress will agree to cosponsor the bill.
LMFTs and LHMCs currently make up approximately 40% of mental health service providers in the country, yet unlike psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, they are not covered providers under Medicare. Integrated care programs are more accessible by patients and financially sustainable when managers can choose from a wide variety of providers to hire.
As the groundswell of seniors continues in society, the demand for medical and mental health services will grow. In 2021, 15% of Americans were 65 or older; that number will reach 20% by 2050. Workforce projection models suggest the demand for mental health providers will increase anywhere from 12 to 15%.
If you are interested in supporting this bill, please call or email your representative today and let them hear your support for this bill. Check here for more information.