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 


 

May 29, 2019

DEMAND A SEAT AT THE MEDICARE TABLE

If you haven’t taken action, your legislators are waiting to hear your story. Don’t delay! Contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to support the:

MENTAL HEALTH ACCESS IMPROVEMENT ACT

Tell them YOUR STORY: “140,000 Licensed Professional Counselors across the United States CANNOT serve their clients that are age 65 and above because Medicare doesn’t cover Mental Health services from Licensed Professional Counselors. These services are covered through Medicaid, TRICARE and private policies up to the age of 65.”

Ask them FOR HELP: “Please co-sponsor The Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This bill would allow seniors to seek Mental Health Services through Medicare once they reach the age of 65. It would allow my colleagues and me to seek reimbursement for the services we currently cannot administer due to outdated Medicare rules. Your support is vital to the success of this legislation.”

They’ll ask for NAME OF THE BILL: “What is the name of the bill and the number?” (If they don’t ask please tell them, they need this information)

Tell them, “There are two companion bills. They are H.R. 945, and S. 286, both are titled The Mental Health Access Improvement Act.”

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO TELL YOUR STORY! Tell them about your concerns and the issues your clients face once you can no longer see them.

Important Points to Share

LPCs Training and Licensure

  • Master’s Degree in Counseling. Licensed in every state.
  • LPCs have a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical training.
  • LPCs have a minimum of 2,000 hours of direct one-on-one counseling with clients, and additional hours earned in group counseling.

NOTE*: Please expand on your training experiences when talking with your Congressional office.

Senior Citizen Facts

  • 1 in 5 Senior Citizens that need Mental Health Services do not receive them. Once legislation is passed, 4 of 5 seniors will be able to access the services they need.
  • Close to seven million seniors suffer from depression or anxiety.
  • Once people in counseling reach the age of 65, they are forced to find new service providers which means beginning the treatment process again. Often they simply give up and go untreated, especially in many rural areas where their options are very limited.
  • 202-225-3121 House of Representatives Switch Board

    202-224-3121 United States Senate Switch Board

    You’re not sure who your Congressman or Senator is? Click here to find out. We need you to CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATORS.

    Be an advocate for your profession and the clients you serve. Tell our nation’s leaders that your profession deserves a seat at the Medicare Table and you serve their constituents who may be some of their most vulnerable citizens.

    ___________________________________________________________________

    Suggested Letter Script:

    Dear Representative/Senator_________,

    I am writing today as a constituent and a resident of (City, State, and Zip Code). As a constituent and Licensed Professional Counselor I am concerned that I am unable to be reimbursed for providing Mental Health Services through Medicare to your constituents once they turn age 65. Prior to the age of 65, I am able to serve our neighbors and your most vulnerable constituents that are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other ailments through Medicaid, TRICARE and private insurance but not Medicare.

    Unfortunately due to outdated Medicare regulations, Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) do not have a seat at the Medicare Reimbursement Table. This means:

    1 in 5 Senior Citizens that need Mental Health Services do not receive the services. Once legislation is passed 4 of 5 seniors will be able to access the services they need.

  • Once people in counseling reach the age of 65, they are forced to find new service providers which means beginning the treatment process again. In many rural areas their options are very limited and they often simply give up and go untreated.
  • All Vietnam era veterans are over the age of 65, and they cannot access Mental Health Care from the LPCs they see prior to reaching the age of 65. An average of 20 of our nations vets are committing suicide daily.
  • Often seniors take prescription painkillers to cope with their health problems which puts them at increased risk of opioid addiction, but they cannot see LPCs trained in addiction counseling through their Medicare coverage.

(PLEASE TELL YOUR PERSONAL STORY ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS AND MEDICARE HERE)

Professional Counselors possess the training and skills needed to serve your most vulnerable constituents. We are sincerely asking you to allow us to do the jobs we are highly trained to perform. Thank you for your continued support of your constituents. And thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and to consider cosponsoring this bill.

YOUR NAME, Street Name, City, State, Zip Code

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