Grassroots Action Center


Commonwealth Fund Study Highlights Need for Mental Health Care in Medicare Program
February 8, 2022 by NBCC Government Affairs

The Commonwealth Fund recently released a study comparing older adults’ mental health needs and access to treatment in 11 high-income countries. This study further highlights the need to pass the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432). This legislation would allow mental health counselors to bill Medicare for counseling services. Please join us for Medicare Mental Health Workforce Week (Feb. 14- 18) to support the Mental Health Access Improvement Act! 

Key findings include: 

  • U.S. Medicare beneficiaries have one of the highest rates of mental health needs overall, with rates for Hispanic/Latinx beneficiaries being the highest. Even so, U.S. beneficiaries are more likely to skip or delay needed care because of costs.
  • Despite the high need for mental health care services by older adults in the United States, the supply of mental health providers is low.
  • Although Medicare offers financial protections, its coverage leaves many older adults exposed to high health care costs. This is particularly true for beneficiaries with serious mental health needs who are likely to spend more on health services. High out-of-pocket health costs can lead beneficiaries to postpone care or forgo it entirely, which can produce poorer health outcomes and raise overall health care spending.
  • Areas for U.S. reform include removing financial barriers to mental health services, addressing unmet social needs of individuals with mental health problems, and further investigating the pronounced disparities between older Hispanic/Latinx adults and other groups.

 

Learn more here: commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2022/jan/comparing-older-adults-mental-health-needs-and-access-treatment

 

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