More than 130 ACA leaders spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress and their staff to lobby for legislation in the areas of mental health, school and career counseling, and veterans affairs.
ACA members meet with Representative Steve Womak (R-AR) during ACA's 2013 Institute for Leadership Training "Day on the Hill."
Counseling leaders from around the country visited Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 25, where they lobbied for important legislation.
Participants were dropped off in front of the Capitol building where they posed for a photo on the Capitol’s historic steps before heading off to meetings with members of Congress. The first stops were the Russell, Dirksen, and Hart Senate Office Buildings, where participants had in-person meetings with their respective senators. After that, the group made its way to the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings to meet with representatives.
During these face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff, Day on the Hill participants discussed three specific policy initiatives (as well as an existing piece of legislation) that would benefit both professional counselors and Americans with mental health needs:
- Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program – helps school districts establish or expand school-based counseling services by providing funding to hire qualified state licensed or certified school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers in order to improve school safety and increase students’ academic achievement.
- Counseling for Career Choice Act – a grant program that will allow professional school counselors to better prepare students for making educated decisions about post-secondary options, and will increase career planning resources and services for students through partnerships with state industries and businesses.
- Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2013 – establishes Medicare coverage of both licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists for the provision of medically necessary outpatient psychotherapy, at the same reimbursement rates as clinical social workers.
- Veterans Affairs Integration – despite the fact that the Veterans First Contracting Program (which explicitly recognizes licensed professional mental health counselors as clinicians within VA facilities) was enacted in 2006, there is little evidence that many of the 1,600 newly hired mental health professionals in VA facilities are counselors.
ACA member Chad Mosher with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during ACA's 2013 Institute for Leadership Training "Day on the Hill."