The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes policy proposals in an effort to promote pragmatic solutions, has issued a report on rural health in America that recommends Congress pass S. 286/ H.R. 945, The Mental Health Access Improvement Act, and allow mental health counselors to bill Medicare. The report, titled Confronting Rural America’s Health Care Crisis, states that “The growing workforce shortage has highlighted the need to increase utilization of existing clinicians, who have been shown to improve outcomes or lower costs.” This report marks the first time that the BPC has recommended the passage of this legislation.
NBCC and members of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition sent a letter to BPC and met with their Rural Health Task Force, which authored the report, in an effort to have this issue included in the report back in 2019. We are grateful that the BPC has recognized the important work that mental health counselors do and will continue pushing Congress to heed their recommendation.