As many of you know, two bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that would add LMFTs, as well as licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), as Medicare providers. These bills are the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017 (S 1879), introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and cosponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017 (HR 3032) introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and cosponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)
The 2018 midterm election is November 6. All seats in the House of Representatives and 35 out of 100 seats in the Senate will be contested during this election. Most Congresspersons and Senators will be holding meetings back home during their August break and during the fall campaign season. This period of time is a great opportunity to meet with Members of Congress, either at their district offices or at meetings in your state, and urge them to support adding MFTs as Medicare providers. Many Members of Congress seeking reelection, or candidates for Congress, will be holding campaign events, which can serve as another opportunity to ask them to support MFTs in Medicare.
A list of the 74 Members of the House of Representatives who support HR 3032 can be found here. A list of Senators who support S 1879 can be found here. If one of your Senators or Congressperson is not on these lists and you have some time, we urge you to attend an event where the Member will be speaking or holding meetings and urge them to support adding MFTs as Medicare providers. In addition to briefly explaining in your own words to the Member why it is necessary to include MFTs as Medicare providers, here are some talking points you may want to include:
- Training: MFTs are highly qualified providers. To become licensed, an MFT must have a master’s degree and at least two years of supervised clinical experience.
- Licensed: MFTs are licensed in all 50 states to provide individual and family therapy to all individuals. MFTs diagnose, assess and treat mental, emotional and addiction disorders.
- Recognition: MFTs are recognized as eligible providers by insurers and employers, including almost all private insurance plans, most state Medicaid plans, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Provider Shortages: Many Medicare beneficiaries live in mental health provider shortage areas, especially rural locales. Since LMFTs and LMHCs make up 40% of the mental health workforce, including LMFTs and LMHCs as Medicare providers will significantly increase the number of mental health providers available to beneficiaries.
Typically, events are posted on a Congressperson’s or candidate’s social media accounts, and/or their website. You can also find district office locations on their websites. Many Members of Congress have a newsletter service, which may list upcoming events. If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, you can find out here.
If you speak with a Member of Congress, please ask if they will support S 1879 / HR 3032 to include MFTs as Medicare providers. If you speak with a candidate running for Congress, ask if they will support adding MFTs as Medicare providers if elected.
If you speak with a Member or potential Member of Congress, please email AAMFT at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we know the results of your contact. Our federal lobbying team will then reach out to the Member of Congress for a follow-up visit to confirm their support.
For those who have not written to your Member of Congress urging support for S 1879 or HR 3032, please do so through this link on AAMFT’s website.
Thank you in advance for your efforts to include MFTs as Medicare providers. Please contact us if you have any questions.