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Bilirakis, Soto and Kennedy Reintroduce Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

June 23, 2021
Press Release

Bilirakis, Soto and Kennedy Reintroduce Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

Washington, D.C.- Earlier today Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Darren Soto reintroduced the Enhance Access to Support Essential Behavioral Health Services (EASE) Act.  There has been widespread agreement that telehealth has been successfully used throughout the pandemic to increase access to quality behavioral healthcare, adding enhanced safety and convenience.  Prior to the pandemic, Medicare’s coverage of telehealth services was limited to treatments associated with opioid addiction.  At the end of last year, Bilirakis and Soto championed a provision put into law that would expand access by allowing Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse for all behavioral health services for children, seniors and those on disability.   However, there are some restrictions in place that limit full access.  The EASE Act, co-authored by Bilirakis and Soto would permanently remove those remaining restrictions.  Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. 

 

As we work to fix our broken mental health system and ensure vulnerable populations have access to quality care, we must acknowledge barriers that exist and embrace the potential of using technology to bridge the gap,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  “Critical shortages within the field of psychiatry, lack of transportation and the stigma associated with seeking treatment are very real barriers that can be addressed through the use of telehealth services.  We’ve seen the progress that has been made in getting Medicare recipients the help they need during the pandemic using telehealth and it is only logical to permanently expand this option.”

 

Although we are looking forward to the return of in-person services after the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that we should continue embracing telehealth as a way for vulnerable populations to access critical services,” said Congressman Darren Soto. “Our bipartisan bill to expand access by allowing Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse for all behavioral health services will make a tremendous difference in the lives of those who rely on telehealth for quality healthcare.” 

 

Telehealth services help Louisiana patients who aren’t always able to easily access the care they need. Our legislation would allow patients to receive care in the comfort of their own homes while reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment, and I’m thankful to partner with Congressman Bilirakis on this important bill,” said Senator John Kennedy. 

 

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