APA is continuing to push for the enactment of the Medicare Mental Health Access Act (H.R. 884/S. 2772), to allow psychologists to be able to practice to the full extent of their licensure without unnecessary physician supervision or oversight in certain Medicare settings. This effort has now gained the support of a long list of consumer and provider organizations. In a Sept. 8 letter to Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., the lead sponsors of H.R. 884, more than 30 national organizations—including Families USA, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Nurses Association, Mental Health America, Psychologists in Long Term Care, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Brain Injury Association of American, the National Disability Rights Network, and the National Council on Aging—went on record as endorsing the legislation as a step to improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mental and behavioral health services. The letter stated that “Medicare’s requirement [for physician supervision/oversight] is outdated and fails to respect the rigorous nature of clinical psychologists’ doctoral-level training and licensure requirements that are already necessary for their participation as an eligible provider.”
In addition to working with coalition partners among the Washington, D.C., mental health advocacy community, APA has partnered with state psychological associations and psychologists across the country in engaging with their members of Congress in support of H.R. 884. This has included both constituent meetings with congressional staff and participation in campaign events in coordination with the Psychology Political Action Committee. Although the bill has not yet gained approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee (one of the committees to which it has been referred), H.R. 884 enjoys bipartisan support among the committee’s members. Congresswoman Schakowsky has spoken out strongly in favor of the Medicare Mental Health Access Act during meetings of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, most recently on Sept. 9.
APA greatly appreciates the leadership demonstrated by Schakowsky, Chu, Mullin, and Smith in promoting H.R. 884, the work that psychologist advocates are doing to enlist the support of their members of Congress, and the endorsement of the legislation by our coalition partners.