Senator Wyden Introduces the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2011

by Rebecca Farley on March 17, 2011

Today, Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2011 (S. 604), a bill that would establish Medicare coverage for marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors.

S. 604 would enable marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors who are properly authorized by the state to file claims for payment through Medicare Part B for providing diagnosis and treatment of mental illness services. This legislation will improve senior citizen and other Medicare beneficiaries’ access to outpatient mental health care by establishing coverage of highly-qualified MFTs and mental health counselors in rural health clinics and other areas of the country where there are shortages of practicing psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. The National Council has supported this legislation in the past and will continue to do so moving forward.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kathryn Scott-Young, PhD April 6, 2011 at 11:20 am

Only ignorance and fear of competition keeps MFTs out of the marketplace. The title MFT does NOT mean I only do marriage work! I am highly trained, experienced, and sought-after for my skills as a therapist, specializing in depression, anxiety, grief, child abuse…but if you only have Medicare coverage, you are limited in using her insurance. You can only see a licensed psychologist for counseling (most psychiatrists focus on med management rather than counseling). What you can get from me that you can’t get from your psychologist is a systems perspective on how your mental/behavioral health issues impact and are impacted by your system of family, friends, co-workers, etc. Kudos to Senator Wyden.

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