WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Improving Coordination and Access to Resources Equitably (CARE) for Youth Act to increase access to mental health services for Medicaid beneficiaries. The bill would align federal law with laws in 27 states across the country that prevent surprise billing for youth on Medicaid who seek mental health services on the same day as primary care services.
“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Expanding access to mental health services for young people on Medicaid by removing billing restrictions can help everyone do much better,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Let’s work together to make mental health support more accessible for everyone.”
“In the wake of a worsening youth mental health crisis, it’s important that we make mental health services accessible to all children,” said Senator Carper. “The Improving CARE for Youth Act will eliminate financial barriers for the more than 50 percent of children in this country on Medicaid, and support better coordinated care across providers.”
The Improving CARE for Youth Act is supported by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Everyone should have access to fully integrated and coordinated health care, but some restrictions in Medicaid and CHIP get in the way, making it harder for patients to receive the care they need. We applaud Senators Carper and Cassidy for introducing legislation to eliminate same-day billing restrictions which currently prohibit a patient from addressing multiple health needs in a single visit or on the same day. This important step will increase access to comprehensive care and likely lead to better health outcomes for millions of Americans,” said David Merritt, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy.
A leader in Congress for strengthening mental health services, Cassidy helped author and pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which made significant resources available to improve mental health care for families and children, including for school-based services. Last Congress, Cassidy passed legislation to reauthorize and strengthen resources Cassidy first secured in his Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, which supports federal mental health and substance use disorder programs.