Advocacy

If you'd like to join our Advocacy Committee or would like to bring an

Advocacy or Legislative topic to our attention, please contact us.

Action Alert from the ACA, AMHCA, and NBCC:

Dear Colleague,

The American Counseling Association (ACA), American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and the

 National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) are working in collaboration with the Medicare Mental Health 

Workforce Coalition to urge your organization and your members to Contact Congress Today in support of passing the:

MENTAL HEALTH ACCESS IMPROVEMENT ACT (S.828/H.R. 432)

Passing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act would provide:

  • 225,000 Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists the option to enroll as Medicare providers.

  • Create a new stream of income for eligible Professional Counselors.

  • Increase access to care for our nation’s older Americans, the disabled population, and increase veteran’s provider choice for mental health care.

 

Where Are We Now:

  • The U.S. House version of the bill passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee.

    • The next step is for the full House of Representatives to Vote on this bill.

  • The U.S. Senate version of the bill was included in the Senate Finance Committee’s draft package on improving the mental health workforce.

    • The Senate may vote on a final package prior to the close of the 2022 Congressional Session.,

 

YOU CAN SUPPORT THE PROFESSION:

Over the past decade we, along with partner organizations, have advocated for the successful passage of this bill. The bill has passed in both the House and Senate previously, but it has never happened at the same time. This is the first congressional session where passage of this bill in both chambers of Congress is realistic.

For bill passage to happen, we need you to advocate for this bill. There are two major steps you must take:

  1. CONTACT YOUR SENATE HEALTH STAFFER: Below you will find a link of Senate Legislative Assistants. Please locate your Senator, and draft a brief e-mail to the staff contact informing them:

The benefit that constituents in the state will have once the Mental Health Access Improvement Act passes.

  • Clearly describe the issues you and your clients face because of the outdated Medicare Policy. Please see the examples below, to help you draft your e-mail:

    • Provide a copy of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition Congressional One Pager

    • Note that outdated language in current Medicare coverage legislation has resulted in many individuals who rely on Medicare experiencing a variety of challenges to getting the care they need, including:

      • Limited access to more affordable treatment options

      • Lack of continuity of care when individuals in therapy either age into Medicare or become Medicare-eligible due to permanent disability

      • Lack of access to 40% of behavioral health professionals with a master’s degree

      • Barriers to better integration of physical and mental health care

      • Lack of access to coordinated benefits for dual eligible beneficiaries and veterans with Medicare because LPC/MHCs and LMFTs are not recognized as Medicare providers

      • Likelihood of foregoing or discontinuing therapy altogether for individuals living in rural areas with few or no available Medicare providers

 

The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R.432) would close the gap in federal law that prevents MHCs/LPCs and LMFTs from being recognized as Medicare providers. The legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries immediate access to over more than 225,000 additional licensed mental health professionals and help close the widening treatment gap. 

PLEASE EMAIL YOUR STATES SENATE STAFFER(s) IN SUPPORT OF INCLUSION OF PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS IN THE MEDICARE PROGRAM

Please Note: No South Carolina Congressperson is currently a sponsor of this bill.  This makes it important for our South Carolina Mental Health Practitioners to reach out!

Find your Senator or Representative HERE.

2. RESPOND TO THE ACTION ALERTS: Each organization has its own organizational action alert. Please click on your organization 

of choice and respond to that alert. 

  • American Counseling Association Alert

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association Alert

  • National Board of Certified Counselors Action Alert

 

Thank you for your support. If you have questions, you may reach us by calling:

American Counseling Association Ph. 800-347-6647 or advocacy@counseling.org 

American Mental Health Counselors Association Ph. 703-548-6002 or advocacy@amhca.org

National Board of Certified Counselors Ph. 336-547-0607 or nbcc@nbcc.org 

Advocacy Updates

  • SC Coalition for Safer Schools

    • SCCA is a part of the SC Coalition for Safer Schools.  We are working with multiple organizations to advocate for quality mental health care for our SC students! View the full legislative agenda, policy updates and contact your legislators here.

    • The SC Coalition for Safer Schools has developed an action center for you to make your voice heard to support our collaborative mission!  Click here for more information!

  • SC Medicaid

  • Counseling Compact

    • Yes, we are continuing to advocate for SC's entry to the Counseling Compact! While the SC legislative session does not open until January, we are continuing to meet with our sponsor to make sure everything is ready to go! For more info on Compact legislation visit www.counselingcompact.org

  • Mental Health Access Improvement Act

    • For the first time in over a decade the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are seriously considering passing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 432/ S. 828).  The ACA is asking that all counselors working in all specialty areas are highly encouraged to unite and support this legislation. We must fight together to gain the needed progress to support the counseling profession and the clients you serve.  These bills will not pass without your advocacy.  The ACA has a prepared message you can send to your federal legislators to encourage them to act now!

    • To keep updated check here.  To learn how to make your comments via the ACA, click here.

Advocacy Committee

The Advocacy Committee is responsible for monitoring, reviewing, and taking appropriate action in consultation with the President, regarding state legislation and regulations that affect counseling.

 

Federal legislation and regulation will also be monitored by the Advocacy Committee, with action as appropriate in concert with the American Counseling Association.

Resources