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Mental Health Access Improvement Act: MFTs and LPCs May Now Enroll to be Medicare Providers

The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.828/H.R.432) which was signed into law on December 23, 2022, is finally being implemented.  As of January 1, 2024, Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) can sign up as Medicare providers, which they were not previously allowed to do.  Not only is this great news for providers, who can now bill Medicare Part B for reimbursement, but it is also excellent progress towards closing the gaps in mental health access shortage areas throughout the country.

According to the American Counseling Association, an estimated 122 million Americans live in areas considered mental health care shortage areas.  Per federal regulations, this generally means that there are less than one (1) mental health care provider per 30,000 people.   However, according to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, effective implementation of this legislation should see an estimated 400,000 mental health professionals become eligible to become Medicare providers; including addiction counselors or alcohol and drug counselors who meet all the requirements to be a Mental Health Counselor.

This critical expansion of the Medicare Act will, therefore, make it possible to serve Medicare eligible clients ages 65 and up as well as those with disabilities who were previously required to pay out-of-pocket for similar services, thereby addressing barriers that have prevented clients from getting the help they need for far too long.

If you or a loved one is in crises, please know that immediate help is also available, and you do not have to struggle alone.  You can call or text the 988 Suicide and Crises Lifeline; providing confidential support to anyone in emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Live Chat is also available.

(This blog, prepared by Campanella Law Office, is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to convey specific legal advice, nor is it intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship.)

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