The American Counseling Association (ACA) supports and is working to help pass the Tele-Mental Health Improvement Act (HR 2264/S. 660) which directly affects the work of licensed professional counselors and their clients throughout the country.
The Tele-Mental Health Improvement Act (HR 2264/S. 660) would require group health plans and health insurers to cover mental health and substance use disorder telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The pandemic is exacerbating existing behavioral health issues and leading to new instances of individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, and substance misuse. Receiving in-person behavioral health care at this time continues to expose people to greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and the related risk of doing so could also imperil any therapeutic gains from in-person treatment. Allowing individuals to receive behavioral health treatment through telehealth will address the heightened risk of mental illness and substance use disorders while concurrently mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
The legislation would also extend all telehealth flexibilities for mental health and substance use disorders at least one year beyond the end of the public health emergency to maintain access to care. This will help better inform policymakers on telehealth policies that create equitable access to quality, evidence-based care and allow telephonic (audio only) services for mental health and substance use disorder services after the public health emergency ends.
In March 2021, the Mental Health Liaison Group (MLHG), of which ACA is a coalition member, sent a letter endorsing the legislation to Senators Tina Smith and Lisa Murkowsky. We will continue to monitor and update the legislation’s progress.
Want to get involved in ACA’s advocacy efforts? Contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.