Barbara Lee

From the office of:

Barbara Lee

From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By:

Date: 2/22/2017

Support Professional Equity for Social Workers

Become an Original Co-sponsor of the

Improving Access to Mental Health Act


Endorsed by:
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)


Dear Colleague:

Please join me in becoming an original co-sponsor of
the Improving Access to Mental Health Act, which I will be introducing with Senator Stabenow. 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 have easy access critical mental health services provided by CSWs.

That is why the
Improving Access to Mental Health Act
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.  If you have any questions, or to sign on as an original
cosponsor, please contact Emma Mehrabi in my office at
or x5-2661 by COB Tuesday, February 28th.


Barbara Lee

Chair, Congressional Social Work Caucus