We wanted to update you on a recent development regarding AAMFT’s efforts to have LMFTs added as Medicare providers. Earlier today, President Biden released his budget for the federal government for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes the President's Fiscal Year 2023 Budget in Brief for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The biggest news for MFTs that came out of the budget for HHS was support for action by Congress to include LMFTs, as well as LMHCs, as Medicare-eligible providers. The text that shows this support has been included below.
Modernize Medicare Mental Health Benefits
Currently, statutory limits on the list of practitioners and the scope of services that are eligible for Medicare payment restrict access to mental health services in Medicare. This proposal would: establish a Medicare benefit category for Licensed Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists that authorizes direct billing and payment under Medicare for these practitioners , remove limits on the scope of services for which Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, and Marriage and Family Therapists can be paid by Medicare; allow these practitioners to bill Medicare directly for their mental health services for covered Part A qualifying Skilled Nursing Facility stays; establish Medicare payment under Part B for services provided under an Assertive Community Treatment delivery system; allow payment to Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers for Licensed Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists providing mental health services; and enable Medicare coverage of evidence-based digital applications and platforms that facilitate the delivery of mental health services. By removing statutory limits on the list of providers that are authorized to receive direct Medicare payment for their mental health services, this proposal would expand access to mental health services in Medicare, especially in rural and underserved areas with fewer mental health professionals, or communities more likely to receive care from the referenced practitioners. [Not Scorable]
We are excited to see this level of support for the MFT Medicare legislation. Support for MFTs as Medicare providers in President Biden’s FY 2023 budget makes it more likely that Congress will consider this request. However, please note that this does not mean that MFTs will automatically be included as Medicare providers beginning in 2023. In order for MFTs to be included as Medicare providers as requested in the President’s budget, Congress must first pass the Mental Health Improvement Act of 2021 or another bill that includes language from this Act. If you have not already done so, contact your Members of Congress now to urge them to pass the Mental Health Access Improvement Act!