Press Releases

Reed Works to Boost Mental Health Care with Bipartisan Bill

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Washington, D.C., September 13, 2018 | comments

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act (H.R. 6781) to increase access to mental health services through remotely connected electronic devices for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Just as we see a primary care doctor every year, it is important we have a ‘check-up’ on the mind as well,” Tom said. “We care about the mental health needs of people and want to ensure they have fair accesses to the care they need in areas where doctors are scarce through the most updated technology available."

“I met recently with doctors and mental health experts about my proposed legislation, and we all agree that this is a commonsense measure that will streamline access to care while closing the coverage gap,” said Rep. DelBene. She added, “Everyone – regardless of where they live – should have access to telemedicine services from the comfort of their home so they can be treated for mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to addiction and suicidal thoughts. This bill is an important step in the right direction for those in need.”

Currently, Medicare limits access to telemedicine to certain geographic regions with provider shortages and patients who can use telemedicine are not permitted to do so from their home. Right now, Medicare requires the patient to be in a qualified “originating site” such as a doctor’s office.

This bill will allow all Medicare beneficiaries to access mental health services through telemedicine in their own home, regardless of where they live.

More than 3.6 million people each year miss or delay care due to lack of transportation to their physician. Telemedicine allows those patients to take off less time from work and spend less time sitting in traffic.

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and only 41 percent of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received health services in the past year.
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