CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at advocacy@counseling.org 


 

Jan 31, 2019

Support New Legislation That Would Provide Medicare Reimbursement to Counselors

On Jan. 31, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Representative John Katko (R-NY) introduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2019. This measure would include Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Marriage and Family Therapists as covered Medicare providers.

Why this bill is important.

Medicare does not include Licensed Professional Counselors in its coverage. Medicare beneficiaries are often at higher risk for mental health problems, such as depression and opioid addiction, yet older Americans are the least likely to receive mental health services. Only 1 in 5 older Americans receive needed mental health care, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Medicaid recipients can see an LPC and Medicaid will cover them—until they reach 65. Many individuals with private health insurance have mental health coverage but, once they retire, find that they can no longer afford to see an LPC. The passage of this legislation will enable Medicare to help the 4 out 5 seniors currently not receiving much-needed mental health care. In rural areas, there are often more LPCs available than all of the other types of mental health professionals, combined, in practice.

You can help ACA pass this bill this year!

The American Counseling Association needs your help to encourage members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to cosponsor the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. In previous years, this bill was passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it was never passed in both chambers during the same session of Congress.

You can click here to send your elected representatives a message about the measure. You can add your own thoughts to the message. The Senate bill is S. 286. The House bill is H.R. 945.

You can also call the U.S. Capitol at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to someone in your elected representatives' offices. A phone call is sure to get the attention of someone in a congressional office. Be sure to let them know about your role as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

If you are available to meet with someone in your elected representatives' state offices about the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, contact Scott MacConomy at ACA by email at smacconomy@counseling.org for help in setting up a meeting.

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23 Comments

  1. 23 Jack doughty 01 Feb
    I support this Bill
  2. 22 Shelly Krohn 01 Feb
    Please support the proposed bill that would allow Licensed Professional Counselors to see Medicare patients.  As an LPC, I often have to refer my patients once they turn 65 to an LCSW, as only they can currently see Medicare patients.  
  3. 21 Kelly Horner 01 Feb
    I have been a mental health counselor, LPC,  for 16 years. I provide the same treatment & services that an LCSW, who is eligible to see Medicare clients do. The professionals who tcan provide services to Medicare recipients are limited in the Mifflin, Juniata county area. Therefore, by passing Senate Bill S.286 & the House Bill H.R. 945 the availability of services for Medicare individuals would increase and it will allow LPC’s to provide treatment to more individuals. Thank u in advance for your cooperation. 
  4. 20 Debbie Moody 02 Feb
    This legislation is necessary!! It is vital!! So many in need of help don’t have access because of a shortage of LCs. Counselors are equally if not more qualified to provide service. We have 7 years of college coursework plus 3 years of supervision!! We are prepared!! ❤️
  5. 19 Melissa thomas 02 Feb
    Please consider cosponsoring the Mental Health Access Act Improvement.
  6. 18 John J Gosling, MSE LPC 05 Feb
    Dear Congressman Gallagher, Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin!

    I love my role as a Positive Affirming and Empowering Licensed Professional Counselor!  I live in Appleton and urge you to approve HR 945 and S 286 which would allow me and my colleagues to bring this important self-enriching services to all, whether they are covered by private insurance or now, through YOUR effort, via Medicare coverage.  While coverage for our services was not included in earlier legislation, your support will open this IMPORTANT service to more Americans.

    I thank you for your support and co-sponsorship!

    Sincerely, John J.Gosling, MSE LPC, 1102 W. Prospect Ave., Appleton, WI 54914
  7. 17 Rachel Feehan 05 Feb
    My name is Rachel Feehan and I reside in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I am writing to ask that you vote for legislation that would provide Medicare reimbursement to counselors (Senate Bill S.286, House bill H.R.945). I appreciate your help and ask that you please send me a response letting me know if you are able to pass this legislature that would improve access to mental health care. Thank you for your time and consideration of my request. 
    Sincerely, 
    Rachel Feehan
  8. 16 Anika Athman 06 Feb
    This is the biggest barrier I see in my rural mental health practice. I am unable to serve a large population with needs. Please consider this bill to allow better access to ALL people in need. 
    Thank you,
    Anika,LPCC
  9. 15 Jenny Beall, LPCC 06 Feb
    It is only by an unfortunate oversight that mental health professionals equally or greater trained than social workers are unable to provide services to aging populations who are notoriously underserved. It has taken far too long to correct this oversight! Please support this legislation so the elderly can have access to the many   therapists and counselors waiting to help.
  10. 14 Rachel Johnson 06 Feb
    Passing this bill would make a huge difference for the population of Medicare users who have been utilizing therapy and have built a bond with the LPC that they see, instead of cutting that bond and decreasing the mental health of thousands of people. It would also give the Medicaid population a larger variety of therapists to choose from. 
  11. 13 Paula ( Polly) Binger 07 Feb
    Please cosponsor the Mental Health Access Improvement Bill. I have many clients that do not want to be forced to transfer to a new Therapist strictly because of an insurance change. Additionally, sometimes I have folks specifically ask for my services and if they have Medicare they are denied. LMHCs, LMFTs, and LISW's all have an excellent education and training background and there should be no reason to discriminate based simply on letters in a given provider's license. Thank-you for your consideration!
  12. 12 Brandi Garner 08 Feb
    Hello;
    I currently serve at my local senior center in which we offer free short term counseling to those over 55 years of age and to caregivers.  We are only able to offer up to 12 sessions and we frequently have a wait list.  In addition, the stress of caregiving is nearly always a long term issue and cannot be treated in 12 sessions.  To be able to offer further counseling services in the community will be a true gift to those who spend their time and physical and emotional energy taking care of those that they love.  Please consider cosponsoring the Mental Health Access Act Improvement.  Thank you for your time.
  13. 11 Randall Ahrens 11 Feb

    My name is Randall Ahrens  I reside in Tomahawk, WI.    I am writing to ask that you vote for legislation (H.R. 945 and Senate S.286) that would provide Medicare reimbursement to licensed professional counselors. This legislature would improve access to mental health care.   I appreciate your help and ask that you please send me a response letting me know if you are able to pass this legislature.  Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

    Sincerely,

    Randall Ahrens, LPC
  14. 10 Susan 14 Feb
    My name is Susan and I reside in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. I am writing to ask that you vote for legislation that would provide Medicare reimbursement to counselors (Senate Bill S.286, House bill H.R.945). I appreciate your help and ask that you please send me a response letting me know if you are able to pass this legislature that would improve access to mental health care. Thank you for your time and consideration of my request. 
  15. 9 Adam Barboff 14 Feb
    Please consider cosponsoring the Mental Health Access Act Improvement.
  16. 8 Camilla Sayrs 14 Feb
    Melissa Thomas 02 Feb
    Ease consider cosponsoring the Mental Health Access Act Improvement.
  17. 7 Mary Kremer-Knese 16 Feb
    Please consider supporting the Mental Health Access Act.
  18. 6 Rita Petersen 16 Feb
    Please cosponsor the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.
  19. 5 Lisa Griffiths PsyD 17 Feb
    Please allow for LPCs and LMFTs to accept Medicare and see Medicare patients. Increasing access to care is crucial and these individuals are highly qualified. Thank you.
  20. 4 Lindsey 18 Feb
    PLEASE PASS THIS BILL. It is important that those under medicare be-able to have better choice around providers and get the help they need! It is already difficult for those that need help to get it so let's make it one step easier for them to obtain a provider.

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