December 01, 2022
Fifth and final discussion The bill strengthens laws and regulations aimed at putting access to mental health care on an equal footing with physical health care in Medicare and Medicaid
washington d.c. — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Senate Finance Committee Members Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Richard Burr, RN.C., today released a draft discussion featuring policies to improve mental health parity in Medicare and Medicaid and help put access to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services on an equal footing with physical health care. Mental health parity includes a set of laws to ensure that mental and physical health care are covered equally by health insurance.
“Too often, the notion of parity in mental health falls short of reality,” Wyden said. “These policies represent the first step in addressing the challenges of mental health parity and the phantom network that I intend to build on in the months ahead – particularly the challenges that I constantly hear about. the share of families at home who are unable to find mental health services available professionals covered in their insurance networks I am proud that the committee was able to meet throughout the year to publish a whole series of policies aimed at improving mental health care for Americans, some of which have already become law. I will continue to work to enact these policies and ensure that all Americans can obtain mental health care when they need it.
“These proposals will help us gather additional data and increase transparency to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to affordable mental health services on par with their access to physical health services,” Crapo said. “I thank Senators Bennet and Burr for their work on this draft discussion, and I look forward to receiving feedback from our colleagues and stakeholders on each draft mental health discussion. »
“As I travel through Colorado, I constantly hear about the mental and behavioral health issues Coloradans and their children face and the challenges they face in finding affordable, high-quality care. We need to change our approach to ensure our health care system treats mental and physical health fairly,” said Benet. “These policies are a step forward to help achieve parity, and I will continue to work to reinvent our mental and behavioral health system to better care for Coloradans and families across the country.”
“Mental health services are a critical health care need as our country recovers from the pandemic,” said Burr. “This discussion project lays the groundwork for advancing sound policies that bring to the fore the importance of ensuring patients have the information they need to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. families, and I look forward to receiving feedback.”
Discussion Project policies include:
- Improved accuracy of provider directories in Medicare Advantage plans.
- Strengthen Medicaid requirements for managed care organizations and states to maintain regularly updated provider directories that include, in part, information about accessing care from behavioral health professionals.
- Lead the GAO to conduct a study of differences in enrollee cost sharing and utilization management between behavioral and non-behavioral health services in Medicare Advantage and versus traditional Medicare.
- Require Medicare to provide guidance to health care providers detailing the extent to which Medicare beneficiaries with substance use disorders can receive services from the partial hospitalization program.
- Ask the GAO to report on Medicaid payment rates for behavioral health services versus medical and surgical services in a sample of states.
This mental health parity discussion draft is the fifth and final legislative draft the finance committee has released since launching its bipartisan mental health initiative. The first, published in May, focused on telehealth policies. The second, published in June, focused on youth mental health. The third, released in September, focused on expanding the mental health workforce. The fourth, released in November, focused on the integration of physical and mental health care providers.
The full text of the draft discussion is available here. A summary of all provisions released by the committee as part of the bipartisan mental health effort, including mental health parity, is available here.
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