About one of every five older adults across the United States faces at least one mental health or substance abuse condition. And too many aren’t getting the services they need; older Americans are less likely than younger adults to receive adequate or appropriate treatment because primary care doctors — who provide most of the mental health care under Medicare — are not sufficiently trained in assessing and treating mental disorders associated with aging.

That’s why Representative John Katko’s sponsorship of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 945) is so important.

His bill, which has bipartisan support, would provide for coverage of mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist services under Medicare Part B and would improve older Americans’ access to licensed mental health professionals by expanding the list of covered providers who can deliver needed services for mental health and substance abuse services.

And it’s forward-thinking; mental and behavioral health issues will become an increasing problem as our nation ages. AARP thanks Representative Katko for his vision and his lead sponsorship of this important bill.

Leo Asen

New York City

Leo Asen AARP New York State president.

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