AAMFT FAMILY TEAM
AAMFT's Family Team is a network of advocates volunteering their time and talents toward furthering MFT policy interest. WAMFT members can provide a vital voice in representing health care interests of our clients by engaging in dialogue and advocacy about the policies impacting our profession.
Family Team Updates
December 24, 2020.
This week, Congress passed a 5,593 page bill that provides additional funding pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding for the federal government, including many federal healthcare programs, through September 30, 2021. We wanted to provide a brief summary some of the provisions that impact the MFT profession.
Minority Fellowship Program:
The federal budget for Fiscal Year 2021 budget includes a total of $16,169,000 for the entire Minority Fellowship Program, which is approximately a 2 million dollar increase in funding as compared to the FY 2020 federal budget. This is a major increase for the MFP. MFTs are one of seven professions that participate in the federal MFP, which is administered by SAMHSA. Therefore, only a portion of this increase will go towards MFTs. The MFP for MFTs is operated by the AAMFT Research and Education Foundation. SAMHSA will inform the AAMFT Foundation next year of the total amount of money that the MFP will receive under this new budget, which is expected to allow the Foundation to add additional MFT Fellows to the MFP.
Other Behavioral Health Programs and Funding:
This legislation makes several important changes that impact MFTs and other mental health providers. Although this legislation did not include text from the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, as well as the inclusion of many other bills that also passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee this summer, this massive legislation did include some provisions that will benefit MFTs:
More Mental Health Funding: The COVID-related provisions contain an additional $4.25 billion in additional funding pertaining to mental health and substance use services over and above the amounts listed in the FY 2021 budget, including funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Expansion Grants.
Provider Relief Fund: The legislation replenishes the Provider Relief Fund by providing an additional 9 Billion to support healthcare providers.
Mental Health Parity: The legislation requires the federal government to annually review at least 20 private healthcare plans regarding potential violations of the federal mental health parity law. If the review finds that a plan is violating the mental health parity law, then the government will require the plan to come into compliance with the law within 45 days.
National Health Service Corps: The legislation extends funding for the National Health Service Corps for an additional three years. MFTs are eligible providers in NHSC loan repayment programs.
With the passage of this legislation, the 116th Congress has effectively concluded. A new Congress, the 117th Congress, will start in January. AAMFT and its allies are already planning with supporters in Congress to reintroduce the MFTs in Medicare legislation early in the 117th Congress. As AAMFT has been doing each year since MFTs were added to the Minority Fellowship Program, AAMFT will advocate for robust funding for the MFP in the FY 2022 budget. AAMFT will also work with the broader mental health community to support initiatives to increase funding for behavioral healthcare services and expand services for current behavioral health programs.
AAMFT would like to thank all Family TEAM members, other AAMFT members, and their allies and friends who have submitted grassroots messages this year to Members of Congress in support of the MFTs in Medicare legislation. We will be contacting Family TEAM members next year to continue advocating for this important goal.