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I punctuate my opening salutation with an exclamation mark for good reason! On December 23rd, CAMFT shared the exciting news that the 117th U.S. Congress passed the Mental Health Access Improvement Act as part of the Omnibus bill, allowing MFTs to qualify for Medicare reimbursement. On December 30th, President Biden signed the bipartisan legislation into law, effective January 1, 2024! This is a historic moment not only for the MFT community, but for the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and seek access to quality mental health care.
Getting our legislation passed was no easy feat. It took 22+ years of ardent work, advocating for this outcome. There was a steady push to educate Congress year after year, with a few years coming very close to passage of a bill, only to fall short in the end and having to start all over again. Several iterations of Board members, grassroots advocacy team volunteers, chapter leaders, staff, lobbyists, and like-minded coalition partners shared real world stories of the difference this one act would make in the lives of many. Through the years, CAMFT remained undeterred, focused on the important task at hand of opening the doors to access for a sizable population of our fellow citizens. In coalition, we remained at the forefront, advocating for the rights of those on Medicare and for parity of MFTs alongside other psychotherapists who were already eligible for Medicare reimbursement. And this year, when it mattered most, thousands of members heeded CAMFT’s grassroots call and emailed their legislators to vote “yes” on this legislation. You understood this is about equity and improving mental health outcomes. To all those who have helped on the front lines in varying capacities, I wish to say ‘Thank You’. Thank you for your commitment, your persistence, and your determination.
With the passage of this monumental legislation, we now pivot from legislative advocacy to regulatory engagement. CAMFT will work in concert with our coalition partners to educate federal regulatory agencies focused on implementing the legislation. Resources will be devoted to help inform the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on how best to incorporate MFTs as providers. Resources will also be allocated to keep you, our members, apprised of developments and informed about how MFTs can participate in the program, starting with our website. We know you have many questions. So do we! Rest assured we will continue to share more in the coming months.
For now, I will close by adding an item to your New Year’s Resolutions list. I invite you to attend CAMFT’s New Year Membership Update webinar on January 12th. In this webinar, I’ll share in greater detail the Association’s focus over the next two years.
I truly cannot think of a better way to start CAMFT’s New Year!
Joy Alafia, MBA, CAE
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