Today, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Community Health Worker Access Act, a new bill proposing crucial investments in the community health workforce to improve health care access in the United States. The Community Health Worker Access Act aims to enhance access to health services for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees by improving reimbursement for services provided by community health workers under Medicare and facilitating their integration into Medicaid. Read and monitor the bill’s progress in Congress here.

Including community health worker services within Medicare and Medicaid would improve the health of people enrolled in these programs and keep our communities healthy, as demonstrated by community health workers’ years of impact on health care in the U.S. and worldwide. This bill will also help strengthen the community health workforce by providing more sustained sources of funding within the health care system. The Community Health Worker Access Act is supported by more than 200 community health worker networks and public health organizations.

The Community Health Worker Access Act would improve payment eligibility for community health workers, promotoras de salud (a Spanish term used to describe community health workers), and community health representatives (a title for community health workers in tribal communities) who provide services to individuals receiving insurance through Medicare and Medicaid while expanding access to community-based services for enrollees in these major health programs.  

This bill would provide coverage for two new categories of community health worker services in Medicare:  

  • Services to prevent illness, reduce physical or mental disability, and restore an individual to the best possible functional level 
  • Services to address social needs through education and referrals to health care and community-based organizations.  

Currently, community health worker services are an optional benefit in Medicaid that at least 29 states have begun to offer. This bill would require the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states to support expanded access to community health worker services. It would also unlock additional federal resources for states to expand these services through Medicaid.