D.C. -- The
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds Sen. Debbie Stabenow
(D-MI) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) for reintroducing the Improving Access to
Mental Health Act (S. 782), a bipartisan bill that would make mental health
services more available to older Americans and boost the rate that Medicare
reimburses clinical social workers.
legislation is a companion to H.R. 1533, which was introduced earlier this
month by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Social Work
Caucus. Sen. Stabenow, like Rep. Lee, is a social worker. Sen. Barrasso is a
than two decades, the number of people aged 65 and older in the United States
will outnumber people under age 18,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW.
“The mental health needs of this population will be huge and possibly
overwhelming. This legislation ensures a sufficient number of clinical social
workers will be there to provide much-needed support and services.”
Stabenow and Barrasso said they support the legislation because it will benefit
people in their states and around the nation.
“One in five Americans struggle with some
kind of mental illness and older Americans are no exception. Michigan seniors
should be able to get quality care from the provider of their choice and this
bill ensures that clinical social workers are among those providers,” Stabenow
“Improving mental health care is an
important personal priority of mine,” said Senator Barrasso. “Once again, I am
proud to join with Senator Stabenow to increase access to mental health
services. As a doctor and leader of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I am
passionate about making sure everyone, especially those living in rural
communities, can get the care they need.”
“Improving Access to Mental Health Act” would increase access to mental health services
for residents of skilled nursing facilities and provide access to the complete
set of clinical services that help Medicare beneficiaries cope with medical
addition, the bill would align Medicare payment for clinical social workers with
that of other non-physician providers by increasing the reimbursement rate from
75 percent to 85 percent of the physician fee schedule.
National Social Work Month and this year’s theme is “Elevate Social Work!” NASW
is undertaking a number of efforts this month to shine a light on the
invaluable contributions of social workers and call for adequate compensation.
S. 782 is a key step in this effort.
300,000 social workers are employed in the fields of health care, mental health
care and substance use disorders. In fact, social workers provide over half of
mental health services in the United States.
Improving Access to Mental Health Act is a win-win for our nation and the
social work profession,” McClain said. “It will help ensure that people who
have contributed so much to our Nation’s greatness can receive high-quality
mental health care as they grow older. And it levels the professional playing
field by ensuring that clinical social workers get the same Medicare
reimbursement rate as other helping professions.”