Mental Health Counselors included in New House Rural Health Care Legislation
The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), the American Counseling Associations (ACA) and the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) efforts to pass Medicare reimbursement for state-licensed mental health counselors took another step further on
In addition to allowing LMHCs to bill Medicare, the H-CARE Act would adjust Medicare payments to rural hospitals and make a series of changes to boost funding for rural clinics, doctors and ambulances. Many of the provisions extend or alter rural health care provisions that were included in the Medicare Modernization Act passed several years ago. Although the primary focus of the bill is on rural health care, the legislation would allow mental health counselors to be reimbursed in all areas of the country.
The bill is similar to legislation introduced in on
Introduction of the House bill brings to five the total number of proposals under which mental health counselors would be allowed to bill Medicare. Bi-partisan legislation is also pending in the Senate (S. 921), introduced by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and the late Sen. Thomas to reimburse mental health counselors under Medicare. In addition, in March 2007, Reps. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) and Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced a House companion bill (H.R. 1588) to S. 921.
Another bill is pending, H.R. 1663, the Medicare Mental Health Modernization Act, which was introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare program. This bill, also sponsored by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN), would among other things, allow mental health counselors to provide mental health services to Medicare beneficiaries.
Call your Representative and ask them to cosponsor and support H.R. 2860, the Health Care Access and Rural Equity Act, sponsored by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Greg Walden (R-OR) and the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 1588), sponsored by Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Barbara Cubin (R-WY).
All members of the
As a constituent, I am calling to ask the Representative to cosponsor and support two bills that would allow state-licensed mental health counselors to provide mental health services to Medicare beneficiaries. H.R. 2860, the Health Care Access and Rural Equity Act, and H.R. 1588, the Seniors Mental Health Care Access Improvement Act would provide better access to mental health care for our nations growing number of senior citizens. Access to providers is especially difficult in rural and underserved areas, and mental health counselors are often the only mental health provider available.
AMHCA and ACA will continue to meet with members of the House to increase support for this legislation. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact