Senators look to expand Medicare's mental healthcare

A bipartisan pair of senior senators reintroduced a bill that would lift a cap on Medicare services for mentally ill patients.

The bill, introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), would eliminate a lifetime cap of 190 days on inpatient psychiatric hospital care.

“There is no good reason why Medicare should randomly shut down benefits and force mentally ill seniors to go without treatment," Kerry said.

"Eliminating the lifetime cap on inpatient psychiatric hospital care takes another critical step in ending the unfair distinction between physical and mental disorder," Snowe said.

The bill was first introduced last year with the support of the AARP and the American Psychological Association.

Mental health issues have taken on a new level of importance in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting tragedy last month that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) seriously wounded.

Meanwhile, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) was trying to build support Thursday for a bill that would boost federal funding for therapists and mental health services in schools.