NBCC supports its board certified counselors and the counseling profession through government affairs initiatives at the federal and state levels. NBCC works with public and private stakeholders to implement policies that create better systems of integrated (or coordinated) care and that increase access to and funding for counselors.
S. 828/H.R. 432, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021, is introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), and Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24).
NBCC is currently engaging with the VA to ensure that relevant provisions of S. 785 are enacted quickly and accurately.
NBCC continues to advocate for independent credentialing standards across the Department of Defense that would allow mental health counselors to practice independently across all five branches of the military.
NBCC secures consistent funding increases for SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program. The program went from being funding at $11 million in 2016 to over $16 million in 2021.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce reports S. 286/H.R. 945 favorably out of a markup, the first time the legislation has been included in a markup in 11 years.
S. 286/H.R. 945 gains 123 cosponsors in the House and 31cosponsors in the Senate, the most in the bill’s history.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issues a temporary emergency rule that allows mental health counselors working in Rural Health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers to be reimbursed by Medicare for telehealth services.
S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, is signed into law. It contains a provision directing the VA to work with the Office of Personnel Management to create an occupational series for mental health counselors. This series would open up new opportunities for mental health counselors within the federal government. Finally, it establishes the Readjustment Counseling Service Scholarship Program, which counselors are eligible for.
The Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Grant receives a funding increase of $10 million, bringing the total funding amount to $112 million.
Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program receives a funding increase of $4 million, bringing the total funding amount to $16 million.
S. 286/H.R. 945, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2019, is introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), and Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24).
Sen. John Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduce S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019. It is a sweeping VA mental health reform bill that includes many NBCC priorities.
The Department of Defense reclassifies mental health counselors as Health Care Providers instead of Paraprofessionals.
The President’s Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), an advisory body composed of federal officials and behavioral health experts, recommended inclusion of counselors in the Medicare program. please feel free to download and read the full report.
U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduce S. 1879, the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017, seeking to establish mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists as authorized Medicare providers.
Four Representatives and two Senators requested language be included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act providing mental health counselors independent practice rights and privileges.
U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduce H.R. 3032, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017, seeking to establish mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists as authorized Medicare providers.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management urging the creation of occupational series for counselors and MFTs.
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduces H.R. 5475, the Health Equity and Accountability Act. H.R. 5475 is sponsored by the House Tri-Caucus and addresses health disparities for minority populations.
NBCC works with Sen. Jon Tester (D‐MT) and several appropriations subcommittees to obtain language directing the Office of Personnel Management to move forward with the Series.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee passes S. 2921, which is a repackaged version of S. 1203 that includes the counselor provisions.
Sen. James Inhofe (R‐OK) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R‐OK) introduce S. 2771 and H.R. 5161 to make graduates of CACREP doctoral programs eligible for VA employment.
VA submits a letter to NBCC stating that it would not be prioritizing the occupational series for counselors and MFTs.
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) and counselor/MFT organizations push to include Medicare legislation in the pending mental health reform package.
Retiring Rep. Chris Gibson (R‐NY) makes it a priority to pass legislation adding counselors to Medicare and adds 10 Republican cosponsors to H.R. 2759 (the most House Republicans ever), raising the total to 50 cosponsors.
NBCC works with Native American counselors to open Indian Health Service (IHS) scholarship program to counselors. IHS surveys facilities about the need for counselors and received positive responses. IHS is internally discussing the addition in the next funding cycle.
NBCC pursues appropriations language to finance increased mental health services in Native American communities through the Mental Health Facilitator program.
At NBCC’s urging, several House and Senate Armed Services Committee Members include in their list of priorities for FY17 National Defense Authorization Act language creating a national credentialing standard and authorizing direct commissioning for counselors.
NBCC spearheads inclusion of language in three veterans bills, S. 1676, S. 1203 and S. 2921, to urge the creation of a federal occupational series for counselors. NBCC includes similar language in defense proposals.
NBCC’s grassroots network consists of board certified counselors who care about important issues for the counseling profession and are motivated to get involved by contacting their legislators to help pass important counselor legislation.
Make your voice heard. Contact your legislators about the issues that matter to you.
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