The U.S. House passed legislation this week containing proposed provisions from U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) that aim to increase federal research on mental health resources for the nation’s senior citizens.

“Millions of Medicare recipients lack adequate access to mental health services, which are critical for aging Americans,” said Rep. Noem, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “I’m hopeful that by taking a data-driven approach, we can quickly and accurately target resources in a way that does the most good with the fewest amount of taxpayer dollars.”

The House passed six pieces of legislation from the Ways and Means Committee as part of a broader House effort to combat the opioid crisis.

Rep. Noem’s provisions stem from the bipartisan H.R. 5790, which she and U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced on May 15. The measure would amend Title XI of the Social Security Act to provide for clinical psychologist services models to be tested by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), according to the congressional record summary.

Specifically, H.R. 5790 would authorize two studies regarding Medicare recipients’ access to mental health professionals, according to a statement from Rep. Noem’s office. One would direct CMMI to study the use of a 24/7 telephone help line staffed by medical professionals; the other would require research and improvement recommendations from the Government Accountability Office on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to clinical psychologists.

The provisions were included in the larger, House-approved bill, the bipartisan Dr. Todd Graham, Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act of 2018, H.R. 6110, originally introduced by U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Chu on June 14.

H.R. 6110, which includes language from several House bills, would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the review and adjustment of payments under the Medicare outpatient prospective payment system to avoid financial incentives to use opioids instead of non-opioid alternative treatments, among other provisions, according to draft text of the bill in the congressional record.

H.R. 6110 has been received by the U.S. Senate, which referred the proposal for consideration to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

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