Newsletter Article | Apr 08, 2013

One Member's Influence on Medicare Bill

By ACA member, Greg Pollock

One of my first advocacy experiences occurred in 2007 when I contacted Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-Oh) office to discuss his supporting and cosponsoring Medicare legislation that included counselors.  This was one of my first experiences advocating for the profession of counseling.  I placed the call to his local office and shared the intention of my call.  I had initially hoped to have an in person meeting with the Senator or staff in the local office, but I was quickly asked by the staffer that answered the telephone who I would like to speak with.  I was not sure exactly who I needed to speak with and asked for advice from the staffer.  It was suggested that I speak to someone in Senator Brown’s Washington D.C. office.  I jumped on this chance and was forwarded to the person who handled all of the healthcare issues for the Senator.

I shared the purpose of the call and was asked a number of questions regarding inclusion of counselors in the Medicare network.  There were several questions asked, and I was thankful that I had studied the information prior to the call provided by the Public Policy team at ACA.  There seemed to be genuine interest in the conversation as there were several questions that were posed during the call from the staff member.  There were several points of clarification that I needed to make and I was sure to follow up with the Senator’s office in the upcoming weeks after the call.  I ended up spending about 45 minutes on the phone with the staffer from Senator Brown’s office and was confident that the call was very productive.   This experience left me confident that I was listened to and that a difference was made especially when I noticed that a couple of months later Senator Brown had become a cosponsor of the Legislation that was discussed on the phone call.  I cannot help but feel that my participation in advocating for this legislation made somewhat of a difference and the positive experience encouraged me to continue making advocacy a priority.

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  1. 1 Marlene Talbott-Green PhD 23 Dec
    I, myself, have had several conversations over the past few years with Sherrod Brown's staff about the Medicare situation for Counselors.  I had a couple of e-mail responses from the Senator, himself, about bills that had been presented in the past and either dropped or defeated, and new legislation that he would co-sponsor.  However, I have no illusions that any new legislation is going to fare better than all the other ones in the past.  Clearly, the legislatures think that Counselors don't know anything about the "medical model" associated with Psychiatry, Psychology and Social Work. Their lobbies have underscored this attitude against the Counseling profession.   Clearly we have not been able to present ourselves in a way to convince the legislature against the strong lobbying of proponents of the medical model.  This is not to diminish any efforts to press onward, but it has been a reality in my own efforts.  Somebody must convince the legislature that we know what we are doing the same as those who follow "the medical model"   I have no idea what that might take.  I am a Counselor LPCC, PhD.  I am also on Medicare insurance.  Who can I call for mental health care should I need it?  Medicare won't pay for a Counselor for me, who is the only mental health professional I would want. I am personally and professionaly embittered by this political games being played out by lobbyists, who are able to work their will with the Federal government. 


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