Category Archives: Congressional Involvement

The AMHCA Threat to TRICARE and Medicare Counselor Participation

Below is some sample language from what the North Carolina AMHCA state chapter is sending to their members.  Presumably some other AMHCA chapters are doing this as well?  Please note that non-CACREP counselors are being referred to here as “non-clinically trained”. Also please note the very strong connection being made to the push for Medicare recognition. It is abundantly clear that some elements of AMHCA intend to cut non-CACREP counselors out of Medicare (most likely with some grandfathering). Historically many private insurance panels tend to follow Medicare guidelines, so that is very bad news indeed if it happens.

Also below is text taken from a letter sent to Congress from one CACREP-only partisan. This is the kind of attitude problem that we face from their most strident supporters. It may be news to many of the non-CACREP counselors reading this message that you are not trained in the “art and science of Professional Counseling”, and that you are not amongst the “best amd [sic] most qualified counselors”. It is also implied that you may not even be “qualified”.

It is CRITICAL that counselors with a broader vision of professional counseling continue to write Congress urging that the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include the House version of the language in HR 1735 expanding TRICARE provider eligibility.

Senators and members of Congress are most receptive to letters from their own constituents. You can find your representatives here: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ Please include particulars about your own state (lack of CACREP programs, etc.)

The Congressional NDAA conference committee members reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill can be emailed by sending your letters to the following distribution list: tricarecounseling@concernedcounselors.org – this is not an ordinary email address, it directly redistributes your email to the committee members.

The ACA has been supportive of the more inclusive House language. AMHCA has broken with ACA on this issue. However, what ACA has not done is send a mass email campaign out to all of its members urging letters of support for the inclusive House version of the NDAA TRICARE language. ACA is perfectly capable of doing this and does so relatively often. We need to urge ACA to take this step quickly. AMHCA (with roughly 7,000 or so members) should not be able to field a stronger membership lobbying campaign than the 55,000 member-strong ACA.

 

AMHCA NC Chapter — Quotes:

[Italics added]

“IMPORTANT NOTICEThere is a bill in the Senate that could put our chances to get Medicare recognition back years, possibly not until 2027, if then.  It was proposed by ACA without consultation with any other professional association.  It would allow non-clinically trained [at LPC level] counselors to become TRICARE counselors. This would all but eliminate any chance of our getting Medicare recognition.  We have not gotten Medicare recognition because there several states who license LPCs with much lower standards than NC, and this would only worsen that. This has serious implications for us in …”  

“The House passed HR1735, which contains Section 712, which reverses the gains we made in the TRICARE ruling in 2014 and moves them to 2027. The Senate version does not contain the wording of Section 712.  The bill will go into conference soon, if not already.  We need to contact Senators… and … and our Representatives to let them know this will seriously damage the quality of mental health services for our military.”  

 

CACREP-Partisan Letter to Congress – Quotes:

[Italics and bolding added]

“There are many who are writing you today and in the past who have been trained in mental health programs that are not professional counseling by training and not CACREP accredited. Many of these programs while well intentioned do not provide through training in the art and science of Professional Counseling.

CACREP affords veterans and their families the opportunity to have qualified trained counseling professionals to provide the many mental health counseling services they need. Individuals trained in other related professions, while licensed as professional counselors, are not trained in the art and science of professional counseling…”

“I am a member of the American Counseling Association and I do not support their position of a 10 year grandfathering period. As a professional counselor educator in a CAQCREP accredited program, I am concerned that the 10 year period indicates that there is no desire to ensure that veterans get the best amd most qualified counselors.

“Professional counseling is a unique profession that has its own accreditation standards in CACREP and it is important that counselors have that training to provide the best possible services to our veterans and their families.”

Letters Needed to Expand TRICARE Eligibility

The House and Senate will meet in conference shortly to work out differences to their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act.

We need language in The Special Rule adopted in H.R. 1735 would allow qualified mental health counselors who hold masters or doctoral degrees in counseling from institutions accredited by other than CACREP to receive TRICARE reimbursement for services provided to veterans and their families through 2027.

This language is not currently in the Senate version.

Letters sent to the following email address will distribute your letter to all the legislative directors serving the Congressmen and Senators involved in this process:

tricarecounseling@concernedcounselors.org

This is not a discussion list – it only exists for a short time in order to email the right Congressional senior staff.

Please consider using elements of the following modified letter which is written to a group rather than to individual members of Congress.

Letter to all legislative directors and their Senators and Congressmen

We strongly recommend that you modify this letter or write your own to include specific examples of how you have served military members, families, and veterans.  Personalize your story.

You are more than welcome to write individual members – please see our last post for the list of names and contacts, as well as an individual member letter format.

Thanks

Congressman Beto O’Rourke: Impact “Could Not Be More Grave” of TRICARE Rules on Military Mental Health

Yet another strong article out of the El Paso Inc. newspaper.  This is starting to get interesting.

O’Rourke: Impact ‘could not be more grave’: Proposed changes to military benefits could reduce care

Representative O’Rourke is on the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security committees, so he may be in a position to do something.

The article also mentions the part of the IOM recommendations that so frequently does not get mentioned by CACREP-only advocates — the part where IOM recommended that CACREP unaffiliated counselors be allowed to continue practicing in TRICARE in order to “maintain the continuity of care” and that TRICARE should continue supervising CACREP unaffiliated counselors “using a scheme that provides for successively greater levels of independent practice.”

This would be a very good time to start writing Congressional delegations to put greater pressure on TRICARE to amend the rules and to support Rep. Beto O’Rourke.