From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By: emma.mehrabi@mail.house.gov
Date: 10/5/2015

Become an Original Co-sponsor of the Improve Medicare Beneficiaries’ Access to Mental Health Services Act of 2015

Original co-sponsors: Bordallo, Brown (FL-05), Clarke, Honda

Endorsed by: National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in becoming an original co-sponsor of the Improve Medicare Beneficiaries’ Access to Mental Health Services Act of 2015, which I will be introducing with Senator Stabenow on Thursday, October 8th. This legislation would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive continuous and complete access to high-quality mental health services from clinical social workers (CSWs).

As one of three qualified mental health professionals that provide psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries, CSWs play a vital role in the continual delivery of mental health services across the nation. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), CSWs are the largest group of mental health service providers – over 200,000 – in the United States. This growth rate demonstrates the increasing demand for CSWs in our nation. However, not all Medicare beneficiaries are able to easily access critical mental health services provided by CSWs.

That is why the Improve Medicare Beneficiaries’ Access to Mental Health Services Act of 2015 is so important. First, this legislation would lift patient access barriers that beneficiaries face if they are residents of a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) by reimbursing CSWs as independent Medicare Part B mental health providers. It would also allow CSWs to provide and receive Medicare reimbursement for critical Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention (HBAI) services that help Medicare beneficiaries cope with the emotional, behavioral, and psychosocial concerns associated with various medical conditions.

Moreover, to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries can access these vital services provided by CSWs, this legislation would raise the Medicare reimbursement rate from 75% to 85% of the physician fee schedule amount. A higher reimbursement rate of 85% would encourage CSWs to become and remain Medicare providers and increase access to mental health services for all beneficiaries.

The time is now to guarantee that our most vulnerable have full access to high-quality mental health services from CSWs in the Medicare program. For more information on the bill, or to sign on as an original cosponsor, please contact Emma Mehrabi in my office at Emma.Mehrabi@mail.house.gov or at x5-2661 by NOON on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8TH.

Sincerely,

/s/

Barbara Lee

Chair, Congressional Social Work Caucus