El Paso is home to Fort Bliss and quite a number of veterans, service members, and their families. The El Paso Inc. newspaper ran a story this past Sunday entitled New rules could limit mental health care for soldiers.
In this story reporter Robert Gray interviews a few local clinic owners expecting huge changes as a result of the TRICARE “proposed” rule changes which will only allow CACREP counselors to join the panel as of January 2015. (As of this time the “proposed” rules are rather imminent and the switch-over is well under way, pending last minute reversals.) One clinic has 11 therapists scrambling to test into the grandfathering period this Fall. Another estimates that 40% of their clients will lose services at their clinic.
Mr. Gray also asked the smart question of how many service members and their families were being referred off base to community supports. The military was unable to comment, making it difficult to know the full extent of the difficulties faced. He followed up by starting to address the related scandal of the Veteran’s Administration CACREP-only policies.
As one of our staff members interviewed in the article put it, “with the current bright spotlight on veterans’ lack of mental health care and VA wait times, we are amazed that tens of thousands of qualified professional counselors being cut out by CACREP-only policies is not a national scandal.”
We hope this is the first of many stories focusing on how TRICARE and VA CACREP-only policies damage communities nation-wide.