The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is actively working with Senator Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Mikulski (D-MD) and Representative Lee (D-CA-13) to build bipartisan support for the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015, S. 2173/H.R. 3712, in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Given Senator Stabenow’s background as a social worker and her position on the influential Senate Finance Committee, she will be a strong champion for advancing NASW’s Medicare agenda. Sen. Mikulski, also a social worker, Dean of the Women in the Senate as well as the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress is working collaboratively with Sen. Stabenow on this legislation and they are each committed to advancing the bill through the legislative process. Rep. Lee is also a social worker, serves on the House Appropriations Committee and leads the Congressional Social Work Caucus.
The two main goals of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 are to increase beneficiary access to clinical social worker (CSW) services and to advance a credible and achievable Medicare agenda for NASW and our membership. The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 achieves these goals in several ways.
- First, S. 2173/H.R. 3712 increases Medicare reimbursement for CSW services from 75% to 85% of the physician fee schedule rate.
- Second, this bill eliminates restrictions on the delivery of social work services in skilled nursing facilities.
- Finally, S. 2173/H.R. 3712 expands the statutory definition of CSW services to include all services (including Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention services) that CSWs are authorized to perform under their respective state licensure regulatory constructs.
The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 recognizes the critical shortage in resources for CSW services and the limitations its places on beneficiary access. This bill would help alleviate those shortages by increasing CSWs reimbursement rate from 75% to 85%. By raising this rate, payment parity would be established between CSWs and other non-physician professionals, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists. Although passing any legislation through Congress is difficult, especially proposals that require increased spending in uncertain economic times, we believe increasing the Medicare reimbursement rate to 85% of the physician fee schedule is a credible and politically viable proposal.
Please contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to cosponsor S. 2173/H.R. 3712. Don’t know who your representatives are? Find your Representatives.