New York Expanded Medicaid Coverage for Mental Health Professionals Vetoed

December 2019 ~

The governor of New York has vetoed two bills aiming to improve access to mental health treatment within the state. The vetoed bills were both approved by the state Legislature in June 2019 and sought to expand state Medicaid coverage to allow licensed clinical social workers and licensed mental health practitioners to directly bill Medicaid for their services.

One of the vetoed pieces of legislation, Senate Bill S5960, would have made care and services provided by licensed clinical social workers eligible for coverage under the Medicaid program.

State senator and bill sponsor, Diane Savino, noted in a memo supporting the bill that social workers are the largest group of mental health practitioners in the country. “They are often the first to diagnose and treat people with mental disorders and various emotional and behavioral disturbances,” said Savino.

The second vetoed bill, Assembly Bill A648A, would have made care and services provided by licensed mental health practitioners eligible for coverage under the Medicaid program.

The Governor’s Veto Message, issued on November 20, indicates the bill would require the expenditure of unbudgeted funds and would be better suited to discussion during budget negotiations. The Governor also stated that he believes that access to appropriate services is “laudable.”

An Assembly member in agreement to veto 648A, Andrew Goodell, commented, “Our Medicaid program currently has the dubious distinction of being one of the most expensive in the nation, even though the size of New York state is smaller than California or Florida.” Goodell continued, “The cost of our Medicaid program exceeds theirs combined. And so while I appreciate the services that are likely provided by mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, creative art therapists and psychoanalysts, this is another expensive expansion of our Medicaid program beyond the medical care that we’ve currently provided.”

New York initially implemented the expansion in January 2014.

Source(s): Crain’s HealthPulse; Post-Journal; New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services;