Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today testified before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee on her Medicare Mental Health Access Act, which she introduced earlier this year alongside Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) If enacted, this bipartisan legislation would give Medicare recipients better access to mental healthcare by removing barriers that force seniors to be referred by a primary care doctor before seeing a clinical psychologist. 

VIDEO: Noem Testifies on Medicare Mental Health Access Act
Link to YouTube

“Millions of Americans lack adequate access to mental health services. That is especially true for seniors on Medicare, particularly if they live in rural or underserved places,” said Noem.  “My bill will make it easier for seniors to get the mental healthcare services they need and deserve by putting clinical psychologists on equal footing with other non-physician providers, like chiropractors and optometrists, who are already easily accessible to Medicare beneficiaries.”

The Medicare Mental Health Access Act (H.R.4277) would define clinical psychologists as “physicians” for the purposes of Medicare, thereby allowing patients to see them directly, rather than relying on a referral from their primary care doctor.  Under the bill, clinical psychologists would be treated neutrally under the Medicare Electronic Health Records program. In 2019, they will enter the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System like other providers considered physicians under Medicare.

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