June 24, 2021

Cortez Masto & Cassidy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Peer Counseling

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the Promoting Effective and Empowering Recovery Services (PEERS) in Medicare Act of 2021, which would expand access to peer support services for mental health and substance use disorders. The legislation would allow more patients to access peer support treatment by ensuring primary care physicians can bill this service to Medicare.                                    

“Peer support specialists are a proven way for patients to get support with mental and behavioral health challenges, and I want them to be more accessible for Nevadans who need them,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation will boost mental health support for vulnerable people across the state and encourage doctors to facilitate this service for patients. I’ll continue working to destigmatize mental and behavioral health challenges and get all Nevadans the care and resources they need.”

“COVID has been tough on people’s emotions. This legislation allows peer support to be added to the options a senior has if she needs mental health support,” said Dr. Cassidy.

Senator Cortez Masto is a leader in expanding access to quality mental and behavioral health care, including through peer programs. Her bipartisan legislation to provide peer support for federal law enforcement officials passed the Senate in June. She also recently re-introduced legislation to help ensure peer support programs are available online. Her bipartisan bill to overhaul the response to mental health crises nationwide also would increases access to a range of mental health services, including peer-supported crisis counseling in mobile crisis units and crisis stabilization facilities. Senator Cortez Masto has led efforts in the Senate to address the student mental health and suicide crisis, working closely with students in Nevada, and has called on the Biden administration to work with her to launch a coordinated, all-of-government response to the challenges facing students. 

The PEERS in Medicare Act of 2021, S.2144, has been endorsed by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), Mental Health America (MHA), the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the National Association of Peer Supporters (NAPS), and the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW).