AAMFT is thrilled to announce that the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432), legislation that would allow MFTs, as well as MHCs, to serve as Medicare-eligible providers, has been included in the proposed omnibus package currently making its way through Congress. It is heavily anticipated that both houses of Congress will take action on this proposed legislation within the coming days.
As stated in the AAMFT Blog post from December 15, AAMFT and its allies have been advocating that Congress include the language from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act into the end of year omnibus spending package that Congress has been developing. We are pleased to report that the language from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act was included in the omnibus bill!
At over 4,100 pages, this massive omnibus bill will fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2023. In addition to funding the federal government, this legislation also includes many policy provisions that change federal law. One of several changes to Medicare would finally allow MFTs and MHCs to serve as recognized providers under Medicare. This legislation would allow MFTs in private practice or other settings to become Medicare-eligible providers. The effective date for allowing MFTs to start serving as Medicare providers is a year from now – January 1, 2024.
Below are a few FAQs concerning this legislation:
- Has this omnibus package been signed into law? - No, it has not. The Senate will first vote on this legislation. If it passes the Senate, the House of Representatives must vote on it, then it would be presented to President Biden for his signature.
- When should Congress pass this omnibus package? - Congress is expected to vote and send this legislation to the President by Friday, December 23. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Senate is expected to vote on this legislation on Wednesday, with the House voting on the legislation about a day after the Senate approves the package. Funding for the federal government will end on Friday evening if Congress does not act. Therefore, there is some pressure on Congress to act this week to prevent a government shutdown.
- Is passage of this omnibus package guaranteed? - No. Although a majority of Members of Congress are believed to support the omnibus package as it is now, passage of any legislation is not guaranteed.
- If this legislation is signed into law, when can I enroll as a Medicare provider and start providing services to Medicare beneficiaries? - Under this legislation, MFTs and MHCs would not be able to serve as Medicare-eligible providers and bill Medicare until January 1, 2024. This delay is needed so that the federal government can make arrangements for MFTs and MHCs to serve as Medicare providers.
Please follow AAMFT through our social media pages and the AAMFT Blog to stay informed of the progress of this legislation. Please also consider sending a grassroots message to your Members of Congress urging them to pass the omnibus package as introduced.
Thank you in advance for advocating for MFTs as Medicare providers. Your messages and outreach to Congress in support of the Mental Health Improvement Act made the difference! Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.
Statement of Support from Finance Committee Chair Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) for Mental Health Provisions in Omnibus Package
Statement from Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Health Subcommittee Chair Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) in Support of Healthcare Provisions in Omnibus Package
Description of Medicare Policy Changes in the Omnibus Package