Government Affairs December 2023 Updates

Dec 13, 2023

Medicare Update

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are currently accepting applications for any counselors interested in becoming a Medicare provider. Please note, an applicant’s effective date of billing will not begin until January 1, 2024. Learn how to submit your materials  here. If you plan to not provide Medicare services, you can choose to participate in the Medicare Opt-Out programs.

Counseling Compact Update

Thirty-One states have now enacted the Counseling Compact, with Wisconsin becoming the most recent state to enact. These states include AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, OK, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV and WY.

Please visit to learn more or see ACA’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Counseling Compact to answer any questions.

State Updates

This month, Washington D.C.’s Mayor signed the Pathways to Behavioral Degrees Act that would provide tuition funding for behavioral health graduate students attending HBCU University of the District of Columbia. This opportunity would increase the number of counselors in the District and alleviate financial barriers that prevent residents from pursuing counseling careers. While this bill still must go to Congress for final approval, ACA supports and encourages other states to adopt similar legislation that would increase the behavioral health workforce. You can read more about this initiative on ACA’s Latest News.

Federal Updates

The American Counseling Association's partnership with the US Department of Veterans Affairs' White Ribbon campaign demonstrates a shared commitment to supporting the mental health and well-being of veterans and all people faced with the challenge of domestic violence. ACA CEO, Shawn Boynes, as well as Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MA) spoke during this event on the crucial role counselors play in supporting individuals who have experienced domestic violence. Read more about how the VA is dedicated to ending intimate partner violence on Counseling Today.

This month, the Government Affairs team attended the inaugural Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Music is Medicine Event. This event highlights how music can impact mental health and foster unity within communities. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra gave remarks and discussed the work the Administration has done to understand the healing power of music and the role of music to promote wellness.

ACA has received many questions from counselors concerning health insurance regulations. The ACA Government Affairs team has created a new member resource to answer counselors’ common questions, as well as provide guidance on how to navigate insurance concerns in their state.  Please visit the ACA website to learn more information.

Legislative Spotlight — Become an Advocate in Your State

Beginning in January, state legislative sessions will begin. As counselors it is crucial to stay informed about proposed bills and their potential impact on mental health services. As sessions begin, reach out to local legislators to advocate for the needs of your clients and community, and work collaboratively with other mental health professionals to amplify your voice. Prepare succinct, data-driven arguments to support your positions, in addition to using social media as a resource to raise awareness. Remember to stay flexible and adaptable as the legislative landscape evolves. By staying proactive, informed, and vocal, counselors can effectively shape policy and ensure that mental health remains a priority in the upcoming legislative sessions.

ACA understands there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of controversial bills from all over the country that will potentially affect the way you practice. ACA has resources that can help you navigate these issues:

Resources, Events, and Opportunities

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) developed the 988 Partner Toolkit, to raise awareness of the 988 Lifeline and provide outreach resources and information.
  • Register for SAMHSA’s 20th Prevention Day! On January 29th, 2024, SAMHSA, in partnership with CADCA National Leadership Forum, will be hosting their annual national conference dedicated to advancing the prevention of substance use and misuse.