CMS seeks 2023 fee boost for behavioral health physicians

In its proposed fee schedule for 2023, CMS is proposing the same fee-for-service payment rate for behavioral healthcare physicians accepting Medicare as Medicare physicians who offer a wider range of medical services.

In the past, the portion of the service Medicare would pay for treatment by specialty providers was less than that of general practitioners.

The proposal is part of the agency's push to significantly expand access to behavioral health services, prioritizing the national mental health crisis and overdose and opioid epidemic.

CMS issued its proposed 2023 physician fee schedule July 7. 

"At CMS, we are constantly striving to expand access to high quality, comprehensive healthcare for people served by the Medicare program," Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, CMS administrator, said in a CMS news release. "Today's proposals expand access to vital medical services like behavioral healthcare while promoting access, innovation and cost savings in the Medicare program."

CMS also wants to increase coordination between primary care providers and specialty care providers to increase detection and effective management of mental health conditions.

To combat the mental health provider shortage, CMS proposed allowing licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and other behavioral health practitioners to provide behavioral health services without direct supervision. 

"[Integrating] coordinated, whole-person care — which addresses physical health, behavioral health, and social determinants of health — is crucial for people with Medicare, especially those with complex needs," Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, said in the news release. "If finalized, the proposals in this rule will advance equity, lead to better care, support healthier populations and drive smarter spending of the Medicare dollar."

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