Social Work Priorities Part of Senate Bill


US Congress building

NASW lauded the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and especially U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo.—longtime champions and sponsors of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2023 (S. 838)—for advancing key social work priorities as part of the Better Mental Health Care, Lower-Cost Drugs, and Extenders Act, which passed out of committee in 2023.

“We are grateful for their efforts to eliminate barriers to mental health care for seniors and for their recognition of the importance of clinical social worker (CSW) services,” said NASW CEO Anthony Estreet, PhD, MBA, LCSW-C.   

Section 102 of the Better Mental Health Care, Lower-Cost Drugs, and Extenders Act would modify the definition of CSW services covered under Medicare Part B to include health behavior assessment and intervention (HBAI) services. HBAI services address emotional and psychosocial concerns that arise from medical conditions unrelated to a mental health condition. Such medical conditions might include diagnosis of cancer or exacerbation of multiple sclerosis.

This provision would enhance Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mental health care by enabling CSWs to bill Medicare for HBAI services, codifying in law the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ recent HBAI policy change included in the calendar year 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule.

cover of winter 2024 issue

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