On Thursday, September 22, the American Counseling Association shared the promising news that the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee voted to move the House version of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 432) to full House consideration. This is a great step in the right direction. We must not become complacent with our current congressional engagement.
Counselor Advocacy Matters to Medicare Inclusion Success
Below are 5 simple steps you can follow to become a champion for the profession:
- Visit the ACA website.
- Click on the “Government Affairs” tab which is located directly under the ACA Logo.
- Click on “Take Action”. Once on the Take Action page, scroll to the bottom of the page where it reads “Sign Up for Alerts”. Enter your e-mail address and zip code. Then, click on the arrow.
- Enter your contact information in the designated boxes and click “save”. Congratulations, you are now signed up to advocate for the profession!
- Go back to the beginning of the Take Action page and complete the alerts that are currently on the site. In the future, alerts will be sent to your email and you will be able to respond to them in under three minutes. Responses are sent directly to your legislatures.
Here are 2 resources you may utilize when talking to Congress:
We Have the Attention of the Federal Government
The American Counseling Association has been called on by Congress to lead by providing its members with the information they require to make an informed decision to support the counseling profession:
I. August 2021 ACA submitted this brief to the congressional committees with jurisdiction over our bills to outline Behavioral and Mental Health Needs for Medicare Beneficiaries.
II. April 2022 ACA completed a national survey and submitted it to Congress to demonstrate an increase to mental health access and greater cost savings once LPCs are enrolled as Medicare providers.
III. ACA has made numerous recommendations to CMS in support of the profession. These recommendations contributed to the CMS decision to propose allowable “general supervision” under the physician fee schedule.
IV. In addition to meeting with the administration, which prompted them to include Medicare Reimbursement for Counselors in the President’s proposed U.S. Health and Human Service Budget. ACA issued a letter to the Biden administration recommending improvements to mental health policy.
V. ACA sponsored a briefing to Congress along with members of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition to further educate Congress on the Medicare bill.
VI. ACA members successfully advocated to amend the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT ACT) to allow LPCs to provide services to Medicare clients in Federal Substance Use Disorder Centers.
The counseling profession and the clients served by counselors can continue to rely on ACA to engage with congressional leaders to increase support for the Medicare reimbursement bills. Our job is to educate and empower legislators and regulators on the issues that protect and promote the counseling profession.
We will continue to:
- Meet with legislators on the Medicare bills.
- Tailor our strategic efforts toward the policy needs of the United States Congress.
- Engage with you, the counselors, directly and indirectly.
Stay up to date on the ever-changing landscape of legislative affairs by:
- Reading the Government Affairs article in the Counseling Today magazine.
- Checking the ACA website for legislative updates.
- Following us on social media.
In addition to Medicare reimbursement, many of you are aware that the ACA works on several issues including but not limited to:
- Funding the Counseling Compact
- Increasing employment within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
- Setting the student to counselor ratio in our schools, and more.
Please be a champion for the profession and the clients you serve. Without your advocacy the chances of advancing legislation in support of the counseling community dramatically decreases.
To learn about how the ACA supports counselor needs legislatively, please visit the ACA website or view the ACA Hill Day recording. If you have questions or want to increase your advocacy efforts, please contact the ACA Government Affairs team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-347-6647.