Medicare and Professional Counselors

Medicare is the largest health care program in the country, covering more than 55 million people. Medicare currently recognizes psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses for outpatient mental health services. However, Medicare does not reimburse professional counselors for behavioral health services. Medicare is the country’s flagship health care program, and counselor inclusion is key to parity with other professions. NBCC promotes legislation making counselors Medicare eligible providers.

For more than a decade, NBCC has worked as part of a coalition made up of counselor and marriage and family therapist (MFT) organizations working together to pass legislation adding counselors and MFTs to Medicare. Like counselors, MFTs are excluded from Medicare despite meeting education and training requirements comparable to those of included professions. Only a federal law can accomplish this objective. Over 30 bills have included language adding counselors and MFTs to Medicare, and the legislation has passed both the Senate and House twice, but never concurrently.

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