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Matsui, Johnson Introduce Bill to Expand Telemental Health Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), both senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the H.R. 5201, Telemental Health Expansion Act, to expand Medicare beneficiaries’ access to high-quality mental health treatment by increasing the availability of behavioral telehealth services. The bill also waives Medicare’s geographic site requirements to provide payment for mental health services delivered via telehealth beginning in 2021 and adds the individual’s home as an eligible originating site for telemental health services.

“1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental illness. Nearly all of us have a friend, family member, or neighbor who has been diagnosed, and unfortunately, current law prevents millions of seniors from using Medicare to seek critical telemental health services. If we are serious about removing the stigma surrounding mental illness, then we need to break down barriers and promote universal coverage of this service,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Telepsychiatry is proven to help patients living in rural communities get access to top-notch care, and seniors in all communities deserve access to telemental health services. By bringing this Medicare regulation into the 21st century and ending the geographic requirement, all seniors stand to benefit from home-centered care and an environment that makes it easier to seek help. I look forward to working with Congressman Johnson and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make this commonsense Medicare fix.”

“We’ve got to do a better job of incorporating technology into rural healthcare; it’s 2019, not 1989. The technology is there, and it’s about time we use it. And, this legislation would be a big step forward in the right direction. It’s vital that Medicare allows for as many options as possible to provide critical mental health services. This bipartisan bill would knock down a major barrier in doing just that. Additionally, this important legislation would add the individual’s home as an eligible originating site for mental health telehealth services,” said Congressman Johnson.

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