Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMHCs, LPCs, LCPCs, MFTs, LMFTs, etc.) can generally accept any and all types of insurance–from Blue Cross to Tri-Care. However, unless affiliated with a larger clinic of hospital, Medicare reimbursement has been oddly unavailable, and restricted to other mental health providers such as Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Psychiatrists, and Psychologists. However, new legislation put to the U.S. senate may soon change that. The following notice (below) was released this week by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).
Medicare Mental Health Counseling Bill Introduced in the U.S. Senate
Washington, DC – March 17, 2011 – Legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate to establish Medicare coverage of licensed professional counselors. On Thursday, March 17, 2011, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced S.604, the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act. The legislation would also establish coverage of licensed marriage and family therapists. AMHCA and ACA worked closely with Senators Wyden and Barrasso in the development and preparation of this critically important bipartisan measure.
WE NEED COSPONSORS!
Mental health counselors are strongly encouraged to call, write, or e-mail their U.S. Senators to ask them to cosponsor S.604. The more cosponsors we have for the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act, the more likely we are to gain its inclusion in larger Medicare legislation approved by Congress.
Call your senators!
- Call 202-224-3121 (the main Capitol switchboard).
- Ask to be connected to the office of one of your senators.
- Once connected, ask to speak with the health legislative assistant.
- Ask his or her boss to co-sponsor S.604.
E-mail your senators!
- Type your U.S. Senator’s name into an Internet search engine.
- Go to his or her Web site.
- Use the “Contact” function (typically in the upper right hand corner of the home page) to send an e-mail urging cosponsorship of S.604.
We Are at a Critical Crossroads
Yes, Congress has actively considered legislation providing Medicare reimbursement to LPCs for several years now. But Congress is now embroiled in an ongoing debate on everything connected to health care reform. Furthermore, Congress must pass Medicare legislation this year in order to prevent a scheduled 20% pay cut for physicians under the program from taking effect on December 31, 2011. We need mental health counselor coverage to be part of this Medicare package—and this represents a prime opportunity to achieve our long-sought goals.
Please take a moment to call or e-mail your U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.604). This legislation will improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to outpatient mental health care in a cost-effective manner, by establishing coverage of highly-qualified LPCs.