Tony Liu Column: To Tackle Youth Mental Health Problems, Change Billing | Chroniclers
This idea is echoed in a 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which describes institutional barriers that can âlimit the adequate payment of social workers, gerontologists and other social workersâ.
One of the institutional hurdles is the billing landscape that funds our mental health care system. The same NASEM 2019 report describes how, under Medicare, social workers are defined as mental health care providers, which means that all of their work, including managing care and l education, is not billable. Billing and coding isn’t glorious, but it does represent an opportunity to target the structural roots of our workforce deficit.
The efforts include the work of the American Psychological Association to increase billing options for psychologists. Legislative efforts also exist. A bipartisan proposal, the Improved Access to Mental Health Act, would allow clinical social workers to be reimbursed at 85% of a physician’s fees, up from 75% under the current reimbursement rate of Medicare.
Additional legislation includes the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, which would increase the number of certified community behavioral health clinics across the United States. coverage for underserved populations. They also pay social workers more adequately. As the Chairman of the National Council for Mental Wellness, Chuck Ingoglia, explains, CCBHCs charge for the anticipated cost of care, which allows them to strengthen their capacity to support patients.