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Politics

Vern Buchanan: Mental Health Counseling, Family and Marriage Therapy Should be Covered by Medicare

May 31, 2019 - 7:00am
Vern Buchanan
Vern Buchanan

On Thursday, a senior Republican congressman from the Sunshine State threw his support behind a proposal to expand mental health coverage for seniors under Medicare. 

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who sits on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, announced he was cosponsoring the “Mental Health Access Improvement Act.”

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., at the end of January, the bill would include mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy in Medicare. U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-NY, is the main cosponsor on the Republican side. Buchanan becomes the third member of the Florida delegation behind the House bill, joining U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla. 

Buchanan noted that around 200,000 therapists and counselors would be allowed to offer services under Medicare if the bill passes.  

“Expanding access to mental health treatment is critical for improving health outcomes,” Buchanan said. “This commonsense legislation would increase Medicare’s availability of mental health providers throughout the nation. I urge the House and Senate to support America’s seniors and send this bill to the president’s desk.”

Buchanan pointed to a study from the Centers for Disease Control which found “an estimated 20 percent of Americans age 55 and older experience some kind of mental health concern.” The Florida congressman also noted the Health Resources and Services Administration found “that there are more than 5,000 Mental Health Professionals Shortage Areas throughout the U.S.”

“Currently, only psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses are eligible to provide mental health services under Medicare. While mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists hold commensurate training and education, they cannot be reimbursed by Medicare and thus their services are more costly and out of reach for many seniors. This legislation closes that loophole by expanding availability of these professionals to Medicare beneficiaries,” the congressman’s office noted. 

Buchanan has the chance to advocate for the bill as it is before the Ways and Means Committee. It is also before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., introduced the companion bill  and he has reeled in more than 15 sponsors. 

Comments

If you want to see enormous fraud, just institute this plan. Besides the question of how to pay for it, how will we know whether the services are real? Remember the outrageous fraud in Medicare that still exists. Where is the accountability? Anyone?

The most outrageous "fraud" of all is the Draft-Dodger-In-Chief currently occupying the Oval Office - and the Republican Party enables that fraud!

The most outrageous laughter of all was that which occurred when everyone saw the look on Hillary's face when she found out that she lost! :-)

You're a rightwingnut fatcat Republican, Buchanan. You don't support Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, or Social Security. Your comment here is pure blather, like most of the other stuff you peddle.

Anybody that supports Obozocare isn't worth the weight of their two brain cells in iron pyrite.

Think about it... it's not medical insurance that lags on this issue. IT's the SHORTAGE of Doctors, Counselors, Nurses, and FACILITIES that keeps many away! Just as importantly, people who are (or may be) in need of these services WILL NOT ADMIT the need for help. It's the possible "STIGMA" of being identified as in need by any possible MENTAL PROBLEMS! Until things change we need more trained individuals, and possible Legal changes to "THE BAKER ACT" which has pretty much proven to be useless - You need to research this one LAW, as it puts a permanent label on the patient as "Possible Screw(s) Loose".

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