Legislative Alerts

U.S. Senate is working on Mental Health Package – Urge inclusion of Improving Access to Mental Health Act

Urge your Senators to Increase Access to Social Work Services and Social Work Reimbursement Rates 
The Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S. 870)

Much-needed legislation increasing Medicare reimbursement rates for Clinical Social Workers (CSWs) and ensuring access to CSW services by Medicare beneficiaries has been introduced in both chambers of Congress. 

The Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S. 870) was introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, MSW (D-MI) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

Currently, the Senate is developing a comprehensive mental health reform legislative package and we need your help to advocate that the Improving Access to Mental Health Act be included in the Senate mental health package.

S. 870 will:

  • Increase Medicare Reimbursement Rates for CSWs: The bill aligns Medicare payment for CSWs with that of most other non-physician providers by increasing the reimbursement rate from 75% to 85% of the physician fee schedule.
  • Increase Access to CSW Services for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Residents:  Currently, independent CSWs who are not employed by the SNF are unable to seek reimbursement under Medicare Part B for providing psychotherapy services to SNF residents receiving care under Medicare Part A.  This legislation will rectify this problem by excluding CSW services from SNF consolidated billing. 
  • Provide Access to CSW Services that Help Medicare Beneficiaries Coping with Physical Health Conditions: Although Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention (HBAI) services are within the scope of practice for CSWs, Medicare currently only reimburses CSWs for the “diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.” S. 870 would broaden the definition of CSW services to enable CSWs to receive Medicare reimbursement for HBAI services, within the CSW scope of practice. These are cognitive, behavioral, social and psychophysiological interventions to prevent, treat, and improve physical health and well-being.

Contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to co-sponsor this legislation and promote its inclusion in the Senate mental health package. Help them understand the mental health needs of Medicare beneficiaries in your community, especially in the COVID-19 era, and how this legislation will help address those needs. A personalized communication goes a long way with a member of Congress. 

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