Mental Health America Applauds Senate Action on Medicare
Major Step Toward Meeting
Mental Health Needs of Beneficiaries
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexandria, VA. (July 09, 2008)-Mental Health America applauds approval by the U.S. Senate today of a Medicare bill that would significantly reduce a major barrier to outpatient mental health services for beneficiaries.
The legislation would phase out the current 50 percent coinsurance rate for those services to the 20 percent rate beneficiaries now pay for other medical outpatient services. The disparity, which has existed since the inception of Medicare in 1965, is a major barrier to needed services.
"We applaud senators who supported this action," said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. "This is major step forward in meeting the mental health needs of beneficiaries and eliminating discriminatory barriers that limit access to care, with often tragic results."
Medicare beneficiaries have an elevated need for mental health care. Twenty-six percent of Medicare beneficiaries have mental disorders, compared to 21 percent of the general population.
It is estimated that only half of older adults who indicate they have mental health problems receive treatment from any healthcare provider, according to a 2001 report of the Administration on Aging. However, they use a low level of outpatient services to treat mental health conditions, while use of more expensive inpatient mental health services is high.
Total health care costs are also higher for people with depression than for other older adults.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.