Hastings Introduces the Outpatient Mental Health Modernization Act of 2019

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Washington, D.C., March 6, 2019 | comments
Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced the Outpatient Mental Health Modernization Act of 2019, legislation that would require Medicare to reimburse Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) for providing transportation, food, nutritional services and vocational counseling to psychiatric patients. Joining Hastings as original co-sponsors include Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI). (Please find attached a copy of the bill):

“Ensuring access to high quality healthcare for all is a top priority,” said Hastings. “The growing role of mental health PHPs in our healthcare system requires that we amend the law to assist PHPs in delivering the services, care and support to those who are living with severe and chronic mental illness. I am proud to introduce this bill to provide the necessary update to our healthcare safety net and ensure more equitable, affordable access to healthcare for our communities.”

BILL SUMMARY:

PHPs provide a structured and clinically intensive alternative to hospitalization for patients who otherwise might require sustained inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. PHP psychiatric patients typically receive four to six hours of treatment per day, five to six days a week in hospital-based settings and community mental health centers. However, Medicare does not cover the costs of nutritional planning, meals or transportation. Currently, PHP facilities are responsible for the full cost of providing food and transportation for the patient. 

The Outpatient Mental Health Modernization Act of 2019 requires Medicare to reimburse PHPs for providing transportation, food, nutritional services, and vocational counseling to psychiatric patients. The provision of vocational counseling provides a critical lifeline for patients to get back on their feet during and after recovery. The bill also establishes a Behavioral Health Advisory Committee in which a diverse group of behavioral health stakeholders would examine and provide recommendations on how to address the persisting challenges of access, stigma, quality and operability in the mental health delivery system. 

The bill is being supported by the National Association for Behavioral Health (NABH). 

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

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