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Rep. Tonko Calls for Raising Mental Health Care Limits on Seniors through Medicare

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Washington, May 18, 2017 | comments
"Even today, Medicare continues to discriminate against seniors with mental illnesses by imposing lifetime caps on the care they need to live in good health. These types of arbitrary caps are a thing of the past in private health insurance thanks to the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act. It’s time for Medicare to do the same.” - Rep. Paul Tonko
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WASHINGTON – This morning, Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20) announced the introduction of the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act of 2017. This legislation would improve care for seniors in need of inpatient mental health care by permanently repealing the Medicare 190-day lifetime limit for inpatient psychiatric care. 

Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20):“Even today, Medicare continues to discriminate against seniors with mental illnesses by imposing lifetime caps on the care they need to live in good health. These types of arbitrary caps are a thing of the past in private health insurance thanks to the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act. It’s time for Medicare to do the same.”

A coalition of mental health groups has issued a letter of support for the bill, which has also garnered co-sponsorships from Reps. John Conyers (MI-13), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Doris Matsui (CA-6).

Limiting care for seniors on Medicare to 190 days over a patient’s lifetime is neither necessary nor cost-effective, especially with the many costly negative health effects that can stem from untreated or undertreated mental health problems. In addition to its impact on seniors, this disproportionately harms individuals who obtain Medicare coverage earlier in life due to disability, many of whom are managing mental illness. Removing the antiquated and arbitrary limit would increase access for the seriously ill and improve continuity of care for many of America’s seniors. 

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