Senator’s bipartisan legislation helps expand mental health access for Medicare patients, especially for those living in rural parts of Arizona with limited mental health providers
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored the Mental Health Access Improvement Act – bipartisan legislation increasing the number of providers able to provide mental health care services by ensuring Medicare covers mental health services provided by licensed mental health counselors, as well as marriage and family therapists.
“Ensuring Arizonans in rural parts of our state can access mental health care, whether through their local licensed mental health counselor or licensed family therapist, will close the gaps in mental health care for underserved communities,” said Sinema.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20% of individuals above the age of 55 experience some type of mental health concern, including substance abuse. Currently, Medicare Part B covers mental health care from licensed psychiatrists and psychologists; however, other licensed counselors are unable to bill Medicare. In Arizona, Apache, Gila, Greenlee, Graham, La Paz, Navajo, and Santa Cruz Counties all have an acute psychiatrist and/or psychologist shortages, despite the large Medicare-eligible populations.
Sinema’s Mental Health Access Improvement Act is part of her work ensuring Arizonans living in rural areas can visit more mental health providers in their communities and ensure Medicare beneficiaries can access mental health services closer to home from trained professionals.