Legislation to establish Medicare coverage of state-licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists has been introduced in the Senate.
Senators Wyden, Barrasso Introduce "Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2011"
Legislation to establish Medicare coverage of state-licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists has been introduced in the Senate. The legislation--S. 604, the "Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2011"--would cover medically necessary outpatient psychotherapy provided by both counselors and marriage and family therapists, under the same terms, conditions, and reimbursement rates as currently apply to services provided by clinical social workers.
Over the years, Medicare legislation to establish coverage of state-licensed counselors has been approved twice in both the House and the Senate, but never enacted into law. ACA is working in coalition with several organizations, including the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, to gain enactment of this legislation. Congress is expected to pass broader Medicare legislation later this year, to prevent a 25% cut in Medicare physician payment rates from taking effect.
The more cosponsors we have on S. 604, the easier it will be to have our legislation included in a larger Medicare bill later this year. ACA strongly encourages counselors to contact both of their Senators to ask them to sign on as cosponsors of the Wyden-Barrasso bill.The following Senators are already cosponsors:
Senator Mark Begich (AK)
Senator Daniel Inouye (HI)
Senator Dick Durbin (IL)
Senator Sherrod Brown (OH)
Senator Tim Johnson (SD)
If your Senator isn't on this list, they should be!
You can identify your Senators using our internet action website at http://capwiz.com/counseling. The site also includes suggested language to use in contacting your Senators (or Representative) about Medicare coverage of counselors. Please do not simply copy and paste all the suggested text! The more you use your own words and give your own reasons for asking the Senator to cosponsor the legislation, the more weight your message will carry.
If you know who your Senators are, you can reach them by phone through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and thank you in advance for your help!
Director of Public Policy & Legislation
American Counseling Association
ph 703-823-9800 x234 | 800-347-6647 x234