NASW commends lawmakers for introducing bill to improve mental health care for older Americans

Oct 8, 2015

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (second from left) meets with (from left) NASW Deputy Director of Programs Heidi McIntosh, NASW CEO Angelo McClain, and Julie Shroyer, senior policy adviser at Polsinelli PC, soon after introducing the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 in the Senate.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (second from left) meets with (from left) NASW Deputy Director of Programs Heidi McIntosh, NASW CEO Angelo McClain, and Julie Shroyer, senior policy adviser at Polsinelli PC, soon after introducing the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 in the Senate.

The National Association of Social Workers is pleased to announce Congressional social work champions introduced legislation today that will improve older Americans’ access to mental health services by updating the way the Medicare Program reimburses clinical social workers.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain visited the office of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on Oct. 8, 2015 to thank her for introducing the legislation.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain visited the office of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on Oct. 8, 2015 to thank her for introducing the legislation.

We urge our members, the wider social work community, and allies of the social work profession to take part in activities to encourage Congress to pass this important piece of legislation.

The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015  was introduced by social workers Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), members of the Congressional Social Work Caucus. The bill is H.R. 3712 in the House and S. 2173 in the Senate.

The bill would align Medicare payments for clinical social workers with that of other non-physician health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and nursing assistants, by increasing the reimbursement rate from 75 percent to 85 percent.

The new payment structure and change in reimbursements for clinical social workers at skilled nursing facilities will encourage trained and licensed professionals to care for more seniors in their communities.

The legislation will also give older Americans, no matter where they live, access to the full range of behavioral assessment and intervention services that clinical social workers provide.

Passing any legislation in Congress is difficult, especially proposals that require increased spending. However, NASW believes increasing the Medicare reimbursement rate to 85 percent of the physician fee schedule is a credible and politically viable option.

We hope you will join us in supporting this legislation by contacting your Senators and urging them to co-sponsor and contacting your Representative and urging him or her to co-sponsor the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015.

Join NASW’s Advocacy listserv to follow this  legislative and other issues important to social workers.  For more information on the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 contact NASW Senior Field Organizer Dina Kastner at dkastner@naswdc.org.

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