Pass Medicare mental health coverage equality
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We the undersigned are writing in support of the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act of 2017. This piece of legislation addresses the disparity between physical health care and mental health care that exists in the Medicare program due to the stringent 190-day limit for inpatient psychiatric facility care. No such lifetime limit exists for any other services covered by Medicare, including inpatient hospital stays due to physical illnesses. This 190-day cap puts an undue financial burden on beneficiaries that require specialized inpatient psychiatric care.
Medicare provides health care services for over 55 million Americans, yet, its coverage of inpatient mental health care has not changed since 1965. This cap is costly in the long run because beneficiaries with mental illnesses are at a higher risk of developing physical illnesses, hospitalizations, and homelessness. Mental health care disparity caused by policies like the 190-day cap also burdens the economy, leading to lost productivity, unemployment and greater reliance on social welfare programs.
Ultimately, if this discriminatory policy continues taxpayers, families, and those with mental illnesses will continue to suffer the consequences due to limited care. Passing the Medicare Mental Health Inpatient Equity Act of 2017 is the first step in fixing unfair mental health coverage practices in the Medicare program. The bill is currently in subcommittee limbo, specifically the Subcommittee on Health in the House of Representatives. Representatives Kenny Marchant and Sam Johnson of Texas are members of this subcommittee and have the influence to push the bill forward.
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