MFTs in Medicare Bill is Now Federal Law
of you know, last month, AAMFT achieved its primary federal advocacy goal of
passing legislation into law that recognizes MFTs as Medicare-eligible
providers! Under this change to Medicare, both MFTs and mental health
counselors (MHCs) will finally be eligible to provide services to Medicare
beneficiaries and receive reimbursement from Medicare. This change will go into
effect on January 1, 2024.
of the MFTs in Medicare Legislation
years, AAMFT, along with other mental health professional associations and
organizations, have been advocating for Congress to pass legislation allowing
MFTs and MHCs to serve as Medicare providers. This legislation, or similar
versions of it, has been introduced in every Congress at least since 1999. The final
version of this legislation, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021,
was introduced two years ago in the House of Representatives as H.R. 432 by Rep. Mike
Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), and in the Senate as S. 828 by Sen. John
Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). This legislation made a significant amount of progress in moving through Congress, including a unanimous vote by
the House Ways and Means Committee in September 2022.
Late last year, Congress started
developing a massive bill
(an omnibus spending package) that would fund the federal government through September 30,
2023, and enact additional policy priorities, including several changes
to healthcare policy Fortunately, due to the efforts of the sponsors of the
Mental Health Access Improvement Act and others, the text from this legislation
was included in the omnibus legislation! The rapid timeline for
passage was as follows:
Tuesday, December 20: Text of omnibus introduced in the Senate as an amendment to
H.R. 2617. Coverage of MFTs and MHCs as Medicare providers included in Division
FF, Section 4121 of the introduced text of the omnibus bill.
Thursday, December 22: Senate passed omnibus legislation (H.R 2617). Coverage of
MFTs and MHCs as Medicare providers included in this legislation.
Friday, December 23: Bill sent back to House for consideration. House passed
Thursday, December 29: President Biden signs omnibus legislation into law, now
known as Public Law No:117-328. Coverage of MFTs and MHCs as Medicare providers is included
in this new law.
AAMFT would like to thank Representatives
Thompson and Katko, and Senators Barrasso and Stabenow for their longtime
sponsorship and support for this legislation, and their leadership in advocating
for this legislation with their colleagues. This accomplishment would not have
been possible without their support. We would also like to acknowledge the many Members of Congress who
cosponsored the Mental Health Access Improvement Act and who advocated for its
inclusion in the omnibus legislation.
We would also like to thank David Connolly of The
Connolly Group, AAMFT’s federal lobbyist, for this accomplishment. Serving as
lobbyist for both AAMFT and the California Association of Marriage and Family
Therapists (CAMFT), David has been involved in thousands of meetings with
Congress to advocate for MFTs as Medicare providers. David’s contributions were
instrumental in moving this legislation forward.
We would like to recognize the many allied mental health associations
and other groups that also advocated for inclusion of MFTs and MHCs as Medicare
Finally, this accomplishment was
only possible due to advocacy by AAMFT members and allies, who met with
Congressional offices, and
of emails and calls to Congress to push this important issue. These efforts
many Senators and Representatives agreeing to support the Mental Health Access
FAQs about MFTs as Medicare Providers
Below are a few FAQs regarding the provision
in Public Law No: 117-328 that allows MFTs and MHCs to serve as
· When can MFTs start providing services to clients as Medicare-eligible providers? - Under this new law, MFTs and MHCs would not be able to serve as Medicare-eligible providers and bill Medicare until January 1, 2024. This delay in implementing the new law is needed so that the federal government can make the necessary arrangements for MFTs and MHCs to serve as Medicare providers.
· When can I enroll as a Medicare provider? – The omnibus legislation that includes language allowing MFTs and MHCs to serve as Medicare providers was signed into law in December. It will take several months for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers the Medicare program, to draft the policies pertaining to MFTs and MHCs in Medicare and to begin the process of enrolling MFTs and MHCs. AAMFT will keep members updated regarding when MFTs can enroll as Medicare providers.
can MFTs see Medicare enrollees? – MFTs can enroll as a Medicare provider and offer services to enrollees
in most practice settings, including private practice and most clinical
settings. MFTs will also be able to serve as eligible providers in Medicare
Advantage plans and provide services to Medicare enrollees in Federally
Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics.
Which MFTs are eligible
to enroll in Medicare? – Once enrollment opens, an MFT must be licensed by a State
to practice independently in order to enroll as a Medicare provider. MFT
associates, interns, and students are not eligible to enroll as Medicare-eligible
providers. This eligibility standard is similar for other Medicare-eligible mental
health professions, as well as for MHCs under the new law. To enroll in
Medicare an MFT must possess a master’s or doctoral degree which
qualifies for licensure as an MFT, have two years of clinical supervised
experience in marriage and family therapy, and be licensed as an MFT by a State.
AAMFT is elated that MFTs have now
been added to federal law as a Medicare-eligible profession, effective in
January 2024. However, advocating for MFTs in Medicare is not over. In 2023, CMS
will be drafting the regulations and policy guidelines regarding the inclusion
of MFTs and MHCs as Medicare providers. The proposed rules will likely be
released this summer. CMS will also be setting up the process for enrolling
MFTs as Medicare providers later this year.
AAMFT will be joining with its
allies in the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition to work with CMS this
year to help ensure a smooth process for enrollment of MFTs as Medicare
providers. AAMFT is planning to provide additional information to members on
the Medicare program, how to enroll as a Medicare provider, and the policies MFTs
will need to follow while treating Medicare enrollees.
Are you a member of AAMFT’s Family
TEAM? The Family TEAM is AAMFT’s network of advocates who are interested in MFT
advocacy and wiling to volunteer some time to advocate for important MFT goals.
TEAM members will receive additional information on the progress of onboarding
MFTs as Medicare providers throughout the year. Please click here to join the Family TEAM today!
contact us at FamilyTEAM@aamft.org if you have any questions.