Article Published: 9/20/2023
The Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition recently sponsored its fourth webinar about the Medicare program and the coming addition of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) as recognized providers, hosted by NBCC. Dr. Beverly Smith, interim executive director and CEO of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, provided opening remarks.
“Medicare 401: Assessing the Essential Features of the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule and Implications for Counselors and MFTs” consisted of a presentation covering the 2024 Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule as it pertains to counselors and MFTs and a question-and-answer portion addressing the most common questions submitted by stakeholders.
The coalition was pleased to welcome Jeanne Vance, JD, health care transactions and regulatory attorney and partner with the Sacramento-based law firm of Weintraub Tobin; Doug Jacobs, MD, MPH, chief transformation officer in the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS); Lindsay Baldwin, also of CMS; and Jolie Long, MS, EdS, NCC, MAC, LCMHC, legislative research manager for NBCC.
Vance’s presentation explained the importance of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, the federal regulation that annually sets reimbursement rates for services covered by Medicare, and explored the details for coverage of counselors and MFTs in the proposed rule. CMS accepted public comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 11, 2023.
All guests participated in the Q&A segment of the webinar. Prior to the event, the coalition asked stakeholders to submit questions about the Physician Fee Schedule and Medicare inclusion of counselors and MFTs. The panelists answered the most-submitted questions in the categories of eligibility; enrollment; and coding, reimbursement, and administrative issues.
The omnibus appropriations bill for 2023 added counselors and MFTs to Medicare through language from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This accomplished what NBCC and the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition have been working toward for decades: Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, counselors and MFTs will be able to bill Medicare directly for covered services to beneficiaries over age 65 and people with disabilities who receive Medicare benefits.
This was a great victory for the counseling profession, but many counselors have questions about what to expect when the law is implemented. The Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition launched this ongoing webinar series to address questions and concerns and help counselors and MFTs navigate the forthcoming changes.
You can view recordings of previous webinars on our website.
The next webinar will take place on Oct. 5 at noon EDT. You can register now for "New Engagement Opportunities for Community Behavioral Health Centers With Counselors and MFTs Under Medicare."
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