Wyden Cheers Significant Health Care Provisions in End of Year Bill
Finance Chair Led Effort to Include Important Mental Health Care, Provider Relief, Medicaid and Territories Funding
Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today issued a statement after omnibus bill text was released, including a major health care title.
“These policies will strengthen the American health care system, particularly for kids and Americans struggling to access mental health care,” Wyden said. “On mental health care, I’m proud that the bill includes a number of important policies from the Finance Committee’s bipartisan process, including new benefits that cover therapists in Medicare, mobile crisis intervention units, and funding to train new doctors, including psychiatrists. I’m also pleased that the bill includes a start towards ending reprehensible practices used by insurance companies to limit access to mental health care through ghost networks and similar methods, and I look forward to continuing to build on that work in the next Congress.
“Beyond mental health care, these policies will make a meaningful difference in access to health care for families. Because of this bill, nationwide, every child in Medicaid and CHIP – 40 million kids across America – will be guaranteed a full year of coverage when they enroll. The bill makes permanent states’ ability to provide a full year of postpartum coverage to new mothers in Medicaid, and makes investments in programs critical to child health and access to long term care at home and in community settings. The bill addresses the funding cliff facing the territories, providing long-term certainty for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and permanent funding for other territories. The bill provides funding and guardrails to support a more stable transition out of the Medicaid coverage requirements that buoyed states and families through the heart of the pandemic.
“I’m pleased that the bill includes a two year extension of telehealth flexibilities that are popular with Americans and health care providers alike, in addition to relief for providers as they continue to stabilize following financial challenges associated with the pandemic.
"Importantly, this package doubles federal funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program and reauthorizes the program for five years. This historic investment, which also doubles the set-aside for Tribal home visiting, will ensure more women and families are served by this bipartisan success story.
“All told, these investments will bolster the American health care system in a critical moment, and I’m proud that members were able to come together on a bipartisan basis to reach this agreement. I look forward to building on this work as chair of the Senate Finance Committee throughout the next Congress.”
The package included a number of major items that Wyden has been working towards as chair of the Finance Committee that:
- Makes major improvements to Medicare coverage of mental health services, including newly providing Medicare coverage for marriage and family therapists and counselors, improved payment for mental health mobile crisis units, and coverage of intensive outpatient mental health care.
- Addresses health workforce issues by expanding the Medicare Graduate Medical Education program that helps train doctors in residency (for which half of new funding will go towards training psychiatrists) and supports nursing school programs.
- Strengthens requirements in Medicaid for health plans and states to publish searchable and regularly updated directories of the health care providers in their networks, including providers of mental health and substance use disorder services.
- Guarantees that every child in Medicaid and CHIP (40 million children nationwide) will have 12 months of continuous, stable coverage when they enroll. This will dramatically reduce disruptions in coverage and care for children, creating critical stability for their ongoing health needs.
- Permanently extends a policy from the American Rescue Plan allowing states to provide 12 months of postpartum coverage to pregnant individuals in Medicaid and CHIP. To date, 27 states have implemented this important policy to support maternal health. This permanent extension will secure those gains and encourage more states nationwide to take up this option.
- Secures 5 years of funding for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program at record funding levels and provides permanent enhanced Medicaid funding for all other territories.
- Extends the telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries first expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic for two additional years.
- Provides a five year investment with historic funding levels for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The policy honors the late Representative Jackie Walorski, who was deeply committed to the success of this program.
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