Blake Edwards does a good job describing the real problems created for so many Americans on Medicare by the fact that mental health-related counseling and other services are not covered at all by the program [“Medicare in desperate need of more mental health providers, who stand ready to help,” Aug. 26, Opinion]. However, it’s even worse than he describes. He doesn’t mention that younger people covered by Medicare as a result of being disabled are also left out.
People even much younger than 65 who qualify for Social Security Disability, whether from mental illness or another cause, are often granted Medicare. As soon as this happens, they are no longer eligible for Medicaid, which is Apple Health here in Washington. That is specified in the Apple Health rules.
A member of my own family has often found it almost impossible to find mental-health services as a result of this double bind. Some community clinics will not take you as a patient without Apple Health coverage, even though you have Medicare and even if you are willing to pay for services. Others may take a limited number of Medicare patients but usually far below the number needed. This lack of mental-health services can have disastrous consequences.
Congress needs to pass the Mental Health Access Improvement Act and end this glaring hole in Medicare coverage that effects younger disabled people and older Americans alike.
Charles Hughes McKinney, Ellensburg