Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mental Health Medicare Bill Passes Senate

Release from Mental Health America:

Major Step Toward Meeting Mental Health Needs of Beneficiaries

Alexandria, VA. (July 09, 2008)—Mental Health America applauds approval by the U.S. Senate today of a Medicare bill that would eliminate a major barrier to outpatient mental health services for beneficiaries.

The legislation would phase out the current 50 percent coinsurance rate for those services to the 20 percent rate beneficiaries now pay for other medical outpatient services. The disparity, which has existed since the inception of Medicare in 1965, is a major barrier to needed services.

“We applaud senators who supported this action,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. “This is major step forward in meeting the mental health needs of beneficiaries and eliminating discriminatory barriers that limit access to care, with often tragic results.”

Medicare beneficiaries have an elevated need for mental health care. Twenty-six percent of Medicare beneficiaries have mental disorders, compared to 21 percent of the general population.

It is estimated that only half of older adults who indicate they have mental health problems receive treatment from any healthcare provider, according to a 2001 report of the Administration on Aging. However, they use a low level of outpatient services to treat mental health conditions, while use of more expensive inpatient mental health services is high.

Total health care costs are also higher for people with depression than for other older adults.


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