The Kennedy Forum, a national mental health and addiction treatment advocacy organization founded by former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, issued a statement on Aug. 5 endorsing an APA-supported bill, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act (H.R. 884), which would improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to psychologists’ services by allowing psychologists to practice independently in all Medicare settings without unnecessary physician oversight.
Highlighting the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on demand for mental health and addiction services, Kennedy’s statement describes the urgency of passing this bill: “Especially as overdose rates increase across the nation, we need all hands on deck when it comes to treating mental health and addiction. I urge Congress to pass H.R. 884/S. 2772, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, which will right this wrong and expand the definition of ‘physician’ to include clinical psychologists. Now, more than ever, lives are at risk, especially those of isolated seniors.” Kennedy’s statement also dispels certain myths surrounding the bill: “Make no mistake: this push for this action is not about prescribing privileges for clinical psychologists.”
APA CEO Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, met with Kennedy soon after their recent testimony during a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, where H.R. 884 was among the bills before the Committee. APA Advocacy staff also engaged with the Kennedy Forum to discuss the bill and its impact on access to mental health and substance use disorder services. APA Advocacy staff continues to conduct extensive outreach to members of Congress and other advocacy groups to broaden support for H.R. 884.