CMS expands Medicare payments for behavioral care: 5 things to know

CMS will allow more types of behavioral health providers to bill Medicare in 2024, and establish payment for intensive outpatient behavioral healthcare. 

The agency published its final payment rules for 2024 on Nov. 2. CMS is adding several updates to how Medicare will reimburse for behavioral health services, intended to improve access to more types of care. 

"HHS is committed to expanding access to behavioral healthcare for people with Medicare. This rule will fill longstanding gaps in behavioral health treatment for Medicare beneficiaries and advance health equity for Tribal communities, rural communities and others who are underserved," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release.

Here are five key behavioral health changes to note: 

  1. CMS will establish Medicare payments for intensive outpatient care for acute mental illness and substance use disorder. These services can be provided by hospital outpatient departments, Community Mental Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics. 
  2. The intensive outpatient treatment services payments will also apply to Opioid Treatment Programs. 
  3. Beginning in 2024, marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors will be able to bill Medicare for their services. Drug and alcohol counselors who meet the requirements to be mental health counselors will also be able to bill Medicare. 
  4. CMS will establish payment for crisis psychotherapy services provided outside of an office setting, including at patients' homes or through mobile outreach units. 
  5. CMS will increase Medicare payments for timed-behavioral health services over a four-year phase in period.  

Read more about the final payment rules here. 

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