Bennet, Barrasso Introduce Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Services in Rural Areas

Bipartisan ADAPT Act Supports Mental Health Workforce, Addresses America’s Mental Health Crisis

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet alongside U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced legislation to increase access to behavioral, psychological, and mental health services in rural areas. 

“Across Colorado, I hear from doctors, local leaders, and parents who can’t find enough mental and behavioral health care providers to meet America’s mental health crisis demand,” said Bennet. “By supporting psychology trainees, Congress will encourage more people to enter the workforce and expand access to these vital services – a crucial step forward to improve access to mental and behavioral health care in this country.”

“Wyoming and other rural communities across the country often face the greatest shortage of mental health providers. Long distances and bad weather can make it hard for patients to receive quality care they deserve,” said Barrasso. “As a doctor, I know firsthand how important it is to recruit and maintain quality mental health professionals. Our bill addresses these issues by giving Medicare patients greater access to mental health services closer to home.”

The Accelerating the Development of Advanced Psychology Trainees (ADAPT) Act, will establish Medicare coverage for psychology trainees, allowing nearly 4,000 trainees to bill for services provided under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. This legislation will help rural areas across the country expand access to services for seniors, improve recruitment of mental and behavioral health providers, and maintain the mental health care workforce.

"Expanding access to mental health care will improve countless lives, so we are pleased to support efforts like this proposal to allow Medicare reimbursement for Advanced Psychology Trainees," noted Rachel Davis, MD, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. "By introducing the Accelerating the Development of Advanced Psychology Trainees Act, Senators Bennet, and Barasso are leading the way to better health care for all."

“The lack of support for psychology interns and residents under the nation’s single largest health insurance program makes it difficult to support training programs, increase the workforce, and has trickle-down effects throughout the rest of the healthcare system,” said Michelle Dawson, PsyD, PMH-C, Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Colorado Psychology Association. “Colorado Psychology Association thanks Senators Bennet and Barrasso for their leadership in introducing this legislation that will expand the workforce, enrich training programs, and improve and increase access to mental health care that is so desperately needed right now.”

“As specialists in the field of brain conditions, we are concerned with the lack of access to important mental and neuropsychological services for those who are in greatest need,” said John Randolph, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, President, National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) and William Perry, Ph.D., Executive Director, NAN. “We strongly support the ADAPT Act to expand psychological, mental, and behavioral health services to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beneficiaries by permitting reimbursement of psychological services provided by supervised psychology trainees.”

“The American Psychological Association is grateful to Senators Barrasso and Bennet for introducing the Accelerating the Development of Advanced Psychology Trainees (ADAPT) Act, which supports reimbursement for psychology interns and post-doctoral residents in Medicare. This legislation will help strengthen our nation’s mental health infrastructure by increasing opportunities for psychology trainees across the nation, particularly in rural areas. By investing in the next generation of psychologists, the ADAPT Act will contribute to a more robust and resilient psychology workforce,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO, American Psychological Association.

Bennet is a leading voice in Congress seeking bipartisan action on our nation’s ongoing mental and behavioral health crisis. In March, Bennet and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Better Mental Health Care for Americans Act to expand access to mental and behavioral health care for Americans on Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and Medicaid. Last year, Bennet introduced the Mental and Physical Health Care Comorbidities Act to support the holistic health of patients with both mental and physical health conditions. In 2021, Bennet released ‘A Bold Vision for America’s Mental Well-being,’ a whitepaper with Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to build bipartisan consensus on redesigning our nation’s mental health care system and reevaluating federal funding for this effort. 

In December 2022, Congress passed Bennet’s Suicide and Crisis Outreach Prevention Enhancement Act with Cornyn, which improves the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline to increase awareness of the Lifeline through outreach campaigns and capacity of the Lifeline and crisis centers. In June 2022, Bennet secured $150 million for implementation of the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. In December 2019, Bennet co-sponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which designates 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and ensures states have the flexibility to strengthen local crisis call centers. In October 2020, the bill was signed into law.

The text of the bill is available HERE.