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Medicare Part B Payments for Psychotherapy Services

Medicare Part B covers psychotherapy services. Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental illness and behavioral disturbances in which a physician or other qualified health care professional establishes professional contact with a patient and, through therapeutic communication and techniques, attempts to alleviate emotional disturbances, reverse or change maladaptive patterns of behavior, and encourage personality growth and development. In calendar year 2016, Part B allowed approximately $1.2 billion for psychotherapy services, including individual and group therapy. A prior OIG review found that Medicare allowed $185 million in inappropriate outpatient mental health services, including psychotherapy services. The review found that psychotherapy services were particularly problematic, noting that almost half of the psychotherapy services reviewed were inappropriate. Specifically, Medicare paid for services that were not covered, inadequately documented, or medically unnecessary. We will review Part B payments for psychotherapy services to determine whether they were allowable in accord with Medicare documentation requirements.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
August 2017 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Medicare Part B Payments for Psychotherapy Services Office of Audit Services W-00-17-35801; A-09-17-xxxxx 2019