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Kaine Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Expand Mental Health Services for Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced his cosponsorship of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, which would expand American seniors’ access to mental health services. The legislation would allow marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) to bill Medicare, increasing the number of mental health providers available to our nation’s seniors.

“The past few years have been challenging for all Americans, especially for our nation’s seniors,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to help ensure seniors can access the high-quality, affordable mental health care they need.”

In the United States alone, 14.5% of individuals ages 50 or older experienced some type of mental health concern in 2020. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there are more than 5,000 Mental Health Professionals Shortage Areas in the United States, and half of all counties in the U.S. have no practicing psychiatrists or psychologists. Seniors in rural communities are the most adversely affected by these shortage areas.

Senator Kaine has long been a champion of expanding mental health services. On March 18, Kaine successfully pushed to get his Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Actlegislation to promote mental health care among health care professionals – signed into law. The legislation was named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville, who died by suicide while working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York City in Spring 2020.

In March 2022, Kaine cosponsored bipartisan legislation to improve mental health among firefighters and other first responders. In November 2021, Kaine introduced the bipartisan Vet Center Support Act, which would provide better identification, intervention, and care to veterans coping with mental health issues in underserved areas.

Full text of the legislation is available here.