The U.S. population is aging at a higher rate, and the proportion of the elderly is anticipated to double from 12% to 22% by the year 2050 (Murphy, 2017). Old people experience a wide range of special mental and physical healthiness challenges which needs to be addressed appropriately. The rise of the need for better healthcare services has triggered the changes in legislation to incorporate the expectations of all the patients and ensure high-quality services. This report paper will assess the implication of improving access to the Mental Health Act on social welfare and economics that affect the elderly.
Research has shown that old people are more vulnerable to mental illness due to a high level of depression and dementia. Therefore, there is much need for ensuring accessible and affordable Medicare services to these individuals. In the attempts to address this issue, a bill "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve access to mental health services under the Medicare program" was introduced on October 2015 ("Improving Access to Mental Health Act (H.R. 1290)", 2018). It was meant to raise the Medicare reimbursement rate, to exclude clinical social work in the payment system and to alter the meaning of clinical social worker service concerning Medicare. The target population for this bill is the elderly at the age of 65 year and above.
In the existing law, the clinical social worker services comprise of the services offered for diagnosing and treating the mental illness. However, it does not include the services provided to an inpatient at skilled care facility under the Medicare program. The amendment aims at revoking these provisions to ensure that the elderly with mental health needs can access the necessary services under the plan. The National Association of Social Workers affirmed that the mental illness is one of the essential issues affecting many families across the world ("Improving Access to Mental Health Act (H.R. 1290)", 2018). The elderly should be capable of receiving quality patient care from their preferred service providers without many exemptions. The selected bill may influence the access to mental health for the elderly where clinical social workers are not readily available.
The bill might have a negative impact by determining the eligibility for the program. The agencies concerned should provide necessary training to the target population on how they can qualify for the plan proposed by the bill. Allowing the elderly with mental illness to receive services from providers of their choice may compromise with the quality of the care provided (Horton & Johnson, 2010). Also, more budget allocation will be required to finance the Medicare program which indicates an adverse economic impact. Therefore, for the bill to work efficiently and meet the intended purpose, appropriate control measures will be essential.
From the above analysis on Mental Health Act on social welfare and economics that affect the elderly, it is indicated that the bill for amending title XVIII of the Social Security Act will have to address some challenges associated with it to meet the intended purpose. It is vital to ensure better performance by ensuring access to the mental health of the elderly in today's world. The exemptions surrounding the bill may negatively affect the elderly access to mental health and eventually increase the financial burden on the families, and hence, it needs to be revised. Also, more social service providers need to be enrolled in the program to meet the increased demand for elderly mental health care.
Horton, S., & Johnson, R. (2010). Improving Access to Health Care for Uninsured Elderly Patients. Public Health Nursing, 27(4), 362-370. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1446.2010.00866.x
Improving Access to Mental Health Act (H.R. 1290). (2018). Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1290
Murphy, P. (2017). From Mental Illness to Mental Health: Improving Access to Care. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 62(6), 655-656. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12700
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