A recent and exciting CMS Medicare update for both benefit recipients and healthcare practitioners is that legislation that included expansion to mental health access was signed into law on December 29th, 2022. After several years of advocating and waiting, mental health counselors (MHC) and marriage and family therapists (MFT) will be able to enroll as participating providers in medicare part b. The medicare participation status will allow MHC and MFT to serve Medicare members and receive reimbursement for the provided services.
MHC and MFT practitioners provide mental health services in the same healthcare settings as their counterpart, clinical social workers (CSW). CSWs have been able to participate as Medicare providers for over 33 years per the act that was signed into law in 1989. Although each state determines the licensing process for each of these professionals; in many instances, the education, training, and clinical hours of an MHC and MFT mimic that of the CSW. The wait is finally over and we all benefit from this update. An estimated 165K professionals will have the option to enroll. Even if only a fraction of the 165K professionals complete the Medicare participation process, that addition will expand access to mental health services to Medicare beneficiaries.
CMS is developing the specific rules that will be incorporated into the CMS provider manual. The Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) should be prepared by the January 1st, 2024 implementation deadline. The provider participation application process should not look very different from the current CSW process. Credentialing & enrollment professionals are prepared to serve MHC and MFTs with the process.