In recent weeks, many members may have noticed an increase in communications from AAMFT encouraging MFTs to contact their Members of Congress and post on social media in support of legislation that would allow MFTs and MHCs to finally become Medicare-eligible providers. During the week of May 16th, AAMFT will be engaging in the third Virtual Action Week since February to provide a coordinated effort for MFTs and their friends, family and allies to contact their Members of Congress to support the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828 and H.R. 432). AAMFT is participating in this Virtual Action Week campaign with other associations who are also members of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, the coalition that advocates for passage of this important legislation.
Members might be wondering why AAMFT and other organizations are engaging in this advocacy push. The answer is that Congress is now focusing on the ongoing behavioral health crisis. There is now some momentum for legislation to add MFTs as Medicare providers:
- Support: As of May 12, the House version of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (R. 432) has 74 Members of Congress who are cosponsoring this legislation while the Senate version of this bill (S. 828) has 26 cosponsors. This is a strong level of support.
- Inclusion in President’s Budget: On March 28, President Biden released his budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which included a recommendation to Congress to include MFTs and MHCs as Medicare-eligible providers. This is a significant development, as the inclusion of this request in President Biden’s budget makes it more likely that some Members of Congress will agree to cosponsor the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. It is also the first time a president’s budget has recommended that Congress add LMFTs as Medicare providers.
- Senate Action: Last fall, the Senate Finance Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over Medicare, solicited comments from stakeholders on legislative proposals that will improve access to healthcare services for Americans with mental health and substance use disorders. AAMFT and many other organizations responded to this request by advocating for the inclusion of MFTs and MHCs as Medicare providers. In March, the Finance Committee released a report summarizing the major findings from these responses and outlining a case for the federal government to address this mental health crisis. This report stated that MFTs and MHCs make up 61% of the total rural mental health workforce yet are not recognized as eligible Medicare providers. The Finance Committee is expected to release a comprehensive behavioral health legislative package for consideration by Congress this summer.
In light of this current effort to address national behavioral health challenges through legislation, we urge members to post on social media and email your Members of Congress in support of including MFTs and counselors as Medicare-eligible providers! AAMFT has also created a special grassroots message that friends and family of AAMFT members can use to send to their Members of Congress to advocate for this important information. These efforts increase the likelihood that other Members of Congress will agree to cosponsor the MFTs in Medicare legislation.
Please contact FamilyTEAM@aamft.org if you have any questions.