Last week, AAMFT made progress on the goal of adding MFTs as Medicare-eligible providers with the inclusion of an AAMFT-supported provision in a spending bill that supports efforts to expand the behavioral health workforce for the Medicare population. This bill, also known as an omnibus spending bill, has been signed into law by the president, and this bill will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018.
Due to the successful advocacy efforts by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), the chief sponsor of legislation in the House of Representatives that would include MFTs and mental health counselors as Medicare-eligible providers (HR 3032), this AAMFT-supported provision was included in the explanatory statement for the omnibus bill. The statement supports efforts by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to explore the expansion of behavioral health providers. This language states that Congress is “aware that Medicare beneficiaries have limited access to substance use disorder and mental health services, particularly in rural and underserved areas.” They noted “concern about the shortage of eligible mental health providers for the Medicare population,” and that they support efforts “to explore the expansion of the mental and behavioral health workforce.”
Although this language does not add MFTs as Medicare-eligible providers, this provision advances AAMFT’s goal of Medicare inclusion for MFTs. This language demonstrates intent by Congress to expand the Medicare behavioral health workforce.
AAMFT would like to thank Rep. Katko for his success in advocating for this provision. We would also like to thank the many AAMFT members who have contacted Congress over the last year advocating for MFTs in Medicare. Just this month, Family TEAM and other AAMFT members responded to an AAMFT advocacy action alert by sending over 1,200 messages to their Members of Congress urging the inclusion of LMFTs as Medicare providers in the omnibus bill.
AAMFT’s Medicare advocacy efforts are continuing. For example, several AAMFT members will be traveling to Washington the week of April 9 to urge their Members of Congress to support the MFTs in Medicare bills, HR 3032 and S 1879. If you have not already done so, please contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to cosponsor legislation that includes MFTs as Medicare providers