Letter: A need for mental health care

January 16, 2024

Originally published in The Northeast Times

NAMI Philadelphia’s mission is to provide education, advocacy, awareness, support and resources to those whose lives are impacted by mental illness. Together with other members of the community, we are committed to improving quality of life for individuals living with mental illness as well as their families.

In our efforts, NAMI Philadelphia continues to recognize the overwhelmingly positive impact that Medicare Advantage has on its beneficiaries, particularly regarding expanded access to high-quality, behavioral health care for Pennsylvanians. Now covering more than half of eligible Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare Advantage provides another critical resource for patients and families struggling with mental illness.

Compared to those enrolled in traditional, fee-for-service Medicare, beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage enjoy access to a wider range of supplemental offerings that help increase access to critical behavioral health care services. This includes free transportation to and from mental health care appointments, treatment from licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists, activity therapy and peer and support groups.

Moving forward, NAMI Philadelphia recommends leaders continue supporting a strong Medicare Advantage program that increases patient access to mental and behavioral health services. One key way to do so is by expanding workforce development efforts to address staffing challenges in the field of mental and behavioral health that currently hinder access to such critical care.

Our leaders in Washington, including Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, can help NAMI Philadelphia continue to address the growing need for mental health care in our communities by working to strengthen and improve Medicare Advantage.

Kyle Carter

Executive Director, NAMI Philadelphia