clinical social work association

The National Voice of Clinical Social Work 

Strengthening IDENTITY  | Preserving INTEGRITYAdvocating PARITY

Log in

CSWA amd NASW Joint Letter for Improved Medicare Beneficiaries' Access to MH Services

08 Oct 2015 4:11 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

Clinical Social Work Association Members and State Affiliate Members:

It is with great pleasure that we write you to inform you of the recent introduction of S. 2173 & H.R. 3712, the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 on October 8, 2015 by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in the Senate and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) in the House.  NASW and Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) have been working on achieving this together on your behalf.

We are actively working with Senator Stabenow, Senator Mikulski and Representative Lee to build bipartisan support for the bill in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Given Senator Stabenow’s background as a social worker and her position on the influential Senate Finance Committee, she will be a strong champion for advancing our mutual Medicare agenda. Sen. Mikulski, also a social worker, Dean of the Women in the Senate as well as the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress is working collaboratively with Sen. Stabenow on this legislation and they are each committed to advancing the bill through the legislative process. Rep. Lee is also a social worker, serves on the House Appropriations Committee and leads the Congressional Social Work Caucus.

The two main goals of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 are to increase beneficiary access to services provided by licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and to advance a credible and achievable Medicare agenda for LCSWs.  The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 achieves these goals in several ways. 

  • First, S. 2173 & H.R. 3712 increases Medicare reimbursement for LCSW services from 75% to 85% of the physician fee schedule rate. (This is the first step to 100%!)
  • Second, this bill eliminates restrictions on the delivery of LCSW services for  Medicare beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities.
  • Finally,  These Senate and House Bills expand the statutory definition of LCSW services to include all services (including Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention services) that LCSWs are authorized to perform under their respective state licensure states and regulations.

The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 recognizes the critical shortage in resources for clinical social work services and the limitations it places on beneficiary access.  This bill would help alleviate those shortages by increasing CSWs reimbursement rate from 75% to 85%. By raising this rate, payment parity would be established between CSWs and other non-physician professionals, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists. Although passing any legislation through Congress is difficult, especially proposals that require increased spending in uncertain economic times, we believe increasing the Medicare reimbursement rate to 85% of the physician fee schedule is a credible and politically viable proposal.

NASW and CSWA are very grateful to Sens. Stabenow and Mikulski and Rep. Lee for their leadership on this bill and encourage all their constituents who are members to let them know.  Under separate cover, an alert will go out to the NASW Advocacy Listserv and CSWA listserv that will let you know how to contact your elected officials about this legislation. To join the Advocacy Listserv, click here.


Susanna Ward, PhD, LCSW
President & CEO, CSWA

Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW                                            
Chief Executive Officer, NASW                                          

PO Box 10
Garrisonville, Virginia  22463

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software