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Tonko, Huizenga Introduce Legislation to Expand Mental Health Care for Seniors

Bipartisan bill eliminates unnecessary limit on inpatient care under Medicare

  • Rep. Paul Tonko

WASHINGTON, DC—Representatives Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) and Bill Huizenga (MI-2) introduced the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act today, bipartisan legislation that would improve care for millions of America’s seniors by permanently repealing the Medicare 190-day lifetime limit for inpatient psychiatric care. No such limit exists for any other Medicare inpatient health care service.

“Too often we see the harmful stigma surrounding mental illness impede Americans from receiving the care they need and deserve, with dire consequences,” Congressman Tonko said. “Medicare currently feeds into this longstanding prejudice by limiting inpatient mental health treatment for seniors. I’m proud to introduce the Medicare Mental health Inpatient Equity Act that does away with this pointless, unjust cap once and for all and modernizes the way we treat mental illness. I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of this legislation that helps ensure our seniors are supported through this pandemic and well beyond.”

“Mental health policies must be modernized to answer the growing needs of the 21st century,” Congressman Huizenga said. “I am proud to help lead on this issue with bipartisan legislation to modernize Medicare policies and bring them in line with the higher standards used by the State of Michigan and private sector. Hopefully this bipartisan bill can help provide a roadmap for additional mental health reforms and challenges Congress must address.”

The 190-day limit in care disproportionately harms individuals who receive Medicare coverage earlier in life due to disability. The vast majority of private health insurance has already removed this antiquated limit.

A Senate-version of the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act is expected to be introduced in conjunction with Tonko’s legislation by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

Dozens of national organizations joined a letter expressing their strong support of this legislation. The American Hospital Association also voiced their support of the bill in a letter to the Congressmen.

A fact-sheet of the bill can be found HERE.


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