Pitfalls of Grandfathering in the New ACA Governing Council Plan

[Those who have not seen the ACA Governing Council meeting minutes endorsing CACREP-Only can find them here.]

We received the following excellent question back-channel from a concerned counselor:

“I read your ACA post with alarm this morning…  Maybe you can clarify a question: What would this ruling mean for someone like me, who has been licensed with an LPC since 1999, from a non CACREP school?.  Would I automatically be grandfathered in, or will I have to make up for any possible deficiencies with my school program, by 2020?”

Good question.  What it will MOST LIKELY mean, is that you will be grandfathered-in and not have to do any further training (not have to make up “deficiencies”).

We remain very alarmed because such a probable outcome does not mean those grandfathered-in are safe.  We just won’t know until events are gradually done to us over the years.

ACA is claiming in the governing council motions that non-CACREP counselors will be treated equally.  I hope so.

In a few of our recent postings we have pointed out instances of prominent CACREP-only communications defaming or at least indirectly implying inferiority of non-CACREP counselors.  This is a message that state boards, Congress, and the general public are being bombarded with.

In order for those grandfathered to remain equal and have fully empowered future careers the following needs to happen:

  • State licensing boards need to adopt the recommended grandfathering provisions exactly, and not something harsher. (Don’t forget they are getting the messaging that we are inferior.)
  •  State licensing boards requiring some sort of alternative licensing procedure for non-CACREP counselors need to NOT adopt requirements so gosh darn exact to CACREP that those non-CACREP counselors going through the procedure would have to redo training for trivial reasons (like redo internships because they were not broken into two components instead of one for example).
  • Portability between states would need to be possible for non-CACREP counselors, as opposed to us being stuck in the state where we managed to get grandfathered before 2020 or whenever.
  • AMHCA and other parties need to immediately quit efforts to get TRICARE, the VA, Medicare, and who knows what other government programs and insurance panels to adopt CACREP-only paneling standards.  If the squeeze is being put on non-CACREP counselors at the state licensing level (ACA wants CACREP-only after 2020 in state licensing) then approval for a state license needs to be the final standard for participating in Federal and other programs.  Having a state license is not very helpful if the non-CACREP counselor then gets blocked from TRICARE, VA, and maybe Medicare or elsewhere.  It’s not true grandfathering if your license is second-rate.
  • The messaging of non-CACREP is inferior needs to stop.  It will be increasingly impossible to control the fallout.  Who can blame the general public, Congress, state licensing boards, private insurance panels, etc. if they adopt less-than-enlightened policies to exclude non-CACREP counselors if they truly believe such to be inferior?  This will shortly no longer be under the control of our professional associations as the messaging will result in independent actions in the world-at-large.
  • Medicare (when we finally get authorization for it) needs to NOT have any CACREP-only language in it.  Private insurance companies often mimic Medicare standards.  This is truly what could kill non-CACREP counselors.  Imagine being a non-CACREP counselor 5-10 years from now and being stuck in one state (although you need to move) and only being able to take 1 or 2 remaining insurance panels while all of your CACREP peers are able to take all insurance panels, TRICARE, and Medicare.
  • If the nightmare of private insurance companies and Medicare having CACREP-only regulations does materialize, then non-CACREP counselors better become really good at solo private practice because employers will be hiring CACREP counselors even if we still have state licenses.

We can’t swear all of this dooms day stuff will happen.  But it’s not rocket science to see how it reasonably could.  Especially with “our” professional associations actively working against us.

Let’s also not forget about the dozens and dozens of master’s programs in counseling psychology being actively hounded out of existence.  Such is not okay and does not serve the “profession” (whatever that means anymore) and certainly does not serve the mental health needs of the public.  NBCC’s offer to help “counseling psychologists” (their term for master’s level counseling psychology graduates after 2020) get licensing from scratch in all 50 states is an absurd atrocity that would be amusing if it was not so sad.