Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) today introduced the Medicare Mental Health Access Act.  If enacted, this bipartisan legislation would give Medicare recipients better access to mental health care by removing barriers that force seniors to be referred to a primary care doctor before seeing a clinical psychologist.

“Millions of older Americans, but especially those in rural areas, lack adequate access to critical mental health services,” said Rep. Noem.  “Recognizing the important role clinical psychologists can play in a healthy aging process, we’re hopeful this legislation will break down the barriers of access many seniors face.  I thank Rep. Schakowsky for joining me in this effort to boost the mental health and wellbeing of seniors in South Dakota and across the nation.”

“Over 55 million seniors and people with disabilities are currently enrolled in Medicare. Far too many of them need critical mental health services and are unable to access them” said Rep. Schakowsky. “This bill would make a real difference in the lives of Medicare enrollees by allowing clinical psychologists to provide their services to beneficiaries without unnecessary burdens. I am proud to introduce the Medicare Mental Health Access Act with Congresswoman Kristi Noem today.”

The Medicare Mental Health Access Act 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.  Noem and Schakowsky first introduced this legislation in 2015.

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