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 


 

Mar 06, 2019

ACA Needs Your Help: You can illustrate the urgent need for Medicare reimbursement for LPCs

Every mental health professional knows that it’s vital that Congress approve Medicare reimbursement for licensed professional counselors (LPCs). All of you know more than one heart-rending story about the difficulties and potential harm facing senior citizens in America who do not have access to a licensed professional counselor. 

One particularly moving story about the desperate situation facing seniors was published online recently by Psychotherapy Networker. This article tells the story of a retired mental health-care worker whose wife simultaneously faced the onset of leukemia; an agonizing end-of-life prognosis; a diagnosis of bipolar disorder; and acute mental health distress related to her physical condition, diagnosis and the effects of her treatment—all while living in a community where the only immediately available clinicians were LPCs who were not Medicare-approved. The unnecessary pain that his wife endured turned the husband into an activist fighting to include mental health counselors (MHCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) as approved health-care providers, closing a desperate mental-health-care gap for his state’s seniors.      

Send Us Your Stories

We want to hear stories from American Counseling Association members that clearly, compellingly, and anonymously illustrate the consequences of the fact that LPCs are not eligible Medicare providers. These may involve a client on Medicaid who moved to Medicare at 65, someone who had counseling coverage through their employer until they retired or someone like the desperately ill woman in the story above who suddenly—and acutely—needed counseling in their later years. We will present the stories of these struggles to members of Congress as we explain why Medicare reimbursement is so vitally important. Please send this information to SMacConomy@counseling.org  Including your city and state would facilitate sharing these stories on Capitol Hill.

ACA’s Advocacy Efforts

The American Counseling Association has been advocating in recent years for legislation that would make LPCs eligible Medicare providers—and hopes to see this measure passed into law in 2019. The legislation has passed the House twice and the Senate twice, but has never passed in both houses in the same Congress.

Working with the Medicare Access Coalition, ACA has met with members of Congress and their staff to explain the benefits of passing this legislation—for America’s seniors and for LPCs. Using the ACA VoterVoice online advocacy system, we have helped ACA members send thousands of emails to their representatives in Congress in support of the Medicare reimbursement issue.

The New Congress

Our bill sponsors, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced the Mental Health Access Improvement Act in the Senate (S.286) and the House (H.R.945) to make LPCs eligible for Medicare Reimbursement. We are also meeting with the new members of the House and Senate to familiarize them with the Medicare reimbursement issue. 

How Can You Help?

In addition to sending ACA your stories of those affected by the lack of Medicare reimbursement, you can help by going to the ACA Take Action page, clicking on “Support Legislation That Would Provide Medicare Reimbursement to Counselors” and sending an email to your elected representatives. You can call your members of Congress at 202-224-3121.

It’s time to add mental health counseling to the other professions that receive Medicare reimbursement for providing treatment to America’s seniors. You know better than most Americans how important this issue is. Please add your voice to this critical process.

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. 6 Katherine Kirby 09 Mar
    I know you may regard this as a quibble but... I and many others are getting our degress in Mental Health Counsleing.  I will not refer to myself as an LPC.  I think you need to add LMHC when referring to mental health counselors.  WHile you may think that using only one title such as LPC is less confusing it will create confusion when a LMHC applies for a job that is listed as looking for an LPC.  Kindly reconsider adding LMHC/MHC when advocating for important bills and legislation.  THank you.

    Best,
    Katherine
  2. 5 Celine Klecker 07 May

    I have been a professional counselor (LPC) since 2009.  I have struggled with job opportunities due to the inability to bill for Medicare, not to mention usually 5-10 dollars less an hour due that fact as well.  Only LMSW were allowed to bill for therapy for those on Medicare.  This frustrated me so much due to the fact that LMSW are case managers not therapist unless their studies where in the Clinical Area of their degree.  The LPC on the other hand has multiple courses that prepare them for counseling, such as: career development; consulting; counseling techniques; counseling theories; counseling philosophy; group techniques; professional ethics; research methodology; multicultural counseling; testing procedures; practicum; an internship that consists of not less than 600 hours of supervised clinical experience in the practice of counseling.   LPC's are more than qualified to assess, treat, refer, aftercare, case management and refer in our field   It is confusing as to why Universities in all states have degree's in professional counselors, yet we are limited in what we can do with our license,   I would like to add as well that Professional Counselors are licensed through LARA in Michigan through Health Professional Licensing, we are considered Health Professionals.   We as a group are more than qualified to as helping professionals to all those that are on Medicare, all other insurances, and private as well.  Please consider this field as a field that would only enhance the benefits of those on Medicaid through professional knowledge, care and team work.  

    Thank you for your time   Celine Klecker MS, LPC, CADC

  3. 4 Rebecca Nelson 08 May
    I am an LCSW who owns a geouo private practice in rural Illinois. There are not enough Laws and psychologist to handle the influx in baby boomers. This is a real issue.
  4. 3 Christopher Frandrup, M.D. 09 May
    We use LPCC's for vital access to mental health needs for our patients.   It is time to add these professionals to the ranks of reimbursed providers for medicare beneficiaries.  
  5. 2 lyn crawford 13 May
    Help us help others 
  6. 1 Kristina Hestrom 28 May

    I am a patient. Mental health is as important or more important that physical health.  We see tragedies daily because of lack of care because those who need help can’t afford it. 

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