The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is committed to keeping counselors informed about public policy issues affecting the profession. Our regular posts will highlight legislative and regulatory initiatives relating to counselor employment, reimbursement, funding, and practice rights. Stay tuned to ensure that you are up to date on all the latest counseling initiatives.
NBCC, along with the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, counselors, and marriage and family therapists from across the country, participated in the Virtual Action Day on Sept. 14.
Since 2019, it is estimated that more than 90,000 lives have been lost to overdose. Though much has been done by counselors and other health care professionals to try to enhance prevention, treatment, services, and supports, individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) often still face stigma, discrimination, and marginalization within society.
It is essential to the profession that health coverage providers recognize the value of the services provided by the more than 250,000 counselors and marriage and family therapists.
The Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 (S. 828/H.R. 432), continues to build momentum in the Senate. If passed, the proposed legislation would allow mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to bill Medicare for counseling services.
Licensed counselors continue to watch the progression of the Counseling Compact, an interstate compact that would give state legislators the power to expand portability and protect the public.
With S. 828, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, recently introduced in the Senate, NBCC and our partners in the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition will continue to build on the momentum from success in the last Congress and hope to gain even more cosponsors.
As state legislatures have been introducing and passing legislation on telehealth and portability, NBCC remains committed to promoting proposals that both preserve educational requirements for counselors and expand portability and telehealth opportunities.
Congress passed another sweeping COVID-19 relief bill. Titled the American Rescue Plan, the legislation was signed into law by President Joe Biden after months of debate in both the House and the Senate.
The Mental Health Access Improvement Act has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives as H.R. 432 by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24).
The federal appropriations process, by which Congress allocates funds for the entirety of the federal government, is getting underway for fiscal year 2022.
Despite months of setbacks and disagreements on the fiscal year 2021 budget, NBCC’s Government & Legislative Affairs team was able to secure funding increases for many of our priority federal programs.
NBCC’s Government and Legislative Affairs Department is preparing to continue pushing for our priority issues in the 117th Congress.
With the recent passing of S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, NBCC commits to working with the VA in implementing this important legislation.
Congress has passed a last-minute continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 11. With the approaching November elections, it is possible that they could pass another continuing resolution to push the negotiation process into early 2021.
NBCC, along with the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, sent letters urging HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma to include S. 286/H.R. 945 in any list of policy options they present to the president.
The commissioners of the FCC recently unanimously voted to approve 988 as the designated number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This change is the result of continued work by NBCC and many other mental health organizations to ensure that a three-digit number was created for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has released their appropriations bill, which includes substantial increases for several vitally important mental and behavioral health programs.
As the movement toward police reform gains momentum, NBCC advocates for counselor inclusion in proposed legislation regarding mental health response teams.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a new Public Health Emergency Rule regarding Section 3704 of the CARES Act, passed on March 27. While these changes are set to expire after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is lifted, this rule marks significant progress in our fight to expand Medicare.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is requesting feedback from health care providers on two key scoring criteria that they use to develop agency policies. Learn how you can add your voice!
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state licensure boards are adopting emergency rules and policies to expand eligibility for telehealth providers.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report, "Confronting Rural America’s Health Care Crisis," which highlights the need to expand Medicare.
The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act (S. 785), was passed unanimously early last month. This bill is a large, sweeping measure that would make many changes to the way the VA currently provides mental health services to veterans.
As Congress begins the FY2021 appropriations process, NBCC continues to prioritize and push for federal spending to include SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program and the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program.
Conversion therapy, the controversial set of unproven and often harmful treatments that purport to “cure” same-sex attraction, is a practice that counselors and many other medical professionals have fought to ban for decades.
Despite the political challenges of the process, NBCC has successfully secured additional funding for many programs that fund counselor education and workforce development.
NBCC has been working with our partners to inform lawmakers and the public about the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, and we need board certified counselors willing to aid in our communication efforts!
Congress passed a spending bill last month which extended funding until November 21 in an effort to buy more time to come to an agreement on 2020 spending levels.
Lawmakers are leaving Washington for recess and are scheduled to return on January 3 for the Second Session of the 116th Congress.
The Michigan Legislature has passed HB 4325, a bill that clarifies licensure laws while protecting the scope of practice and ability of LPCs in the state to treat and diagnose.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a new tool to help those in need of treatment for substance use disorder locate and access treatment near them.
As Congress debates over federal spending levels, NBCC keeps its focus on working with Congressional partners to secure an increase in funding for SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program.
U.S. Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) have introduced H.R. 4194, National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019.
Congress has returned from a month long August recess and has a full agenda for the rest of the year. Aside from finishing the appropriations process, it is likely Congress will look to pass at least some legislation relating to health care.
Members of the House of Representatives and Senate have left Washington D.C. for their annual summer recess
The House of Representatives moved forward with its annual appropriations process in the months leading up to the August recess, but the Senate waited until a budget and spending cap deal was struck and signed by the President
NBCC is partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) for the annual Hill Day in Washington D.C., which allows mental health professionals, including counselors, to visit their senators’ and representatives’ offices and make their voices heard on public policy.
Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies released a proposed spending bill that would increase funding for SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) by $2 million.
NBCC’s Government & Legislative Affairs Department is working with agencies and officials in New York and Michigan as they strive to protect and clarify their scopes of practice for counselors.
Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), who co-chair the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, have introduced H.R. 2431, the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act of 2019.
Have you ever thought about contacting your senators and representatives about counselors serving Medicare beneficiaries but are worried you wouldn’t know what to say?
The NBCC Government Affairs team is tracking Arizona House Bill 2569 (H.B. 2569), aimed at decreasing occupational licensing requirements for newcomers who wish to work in the state.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has introduced H.R. 100, the Veteran Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act, which would direct the VA to publish a review of efforts to hire mental health counselors.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)/National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Program is open for applications through Feb. 21.
In government affairs, oftentimes conflict means opportunity. The new Congress, seated on Jan. 3 with a Republican Senate majority and a Democratic House majority, will be forced to compromise with each other on large funding, health care, and other pieces of legislation.
With midterm elections completed, national attention is turning toward the next Congress. NBCC’s focus, however, remains unchanged.
Congress has approved sweeping legislation to combat the opioid crisis, and the bill includes student loan repayment assistance to counselors and other behavioral health professionals. The bill now goes to President Trump.
President Trump signed legislation on Sept. 21 that directs the VA to work with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to create an Occupational Series for mental health counselors and a staffing plan for counselors to fill vacant positions in the agency.
Read the inaugural edition of the Counselor Advocacy Networker, NBCC’s exclusive monthly newsletter for counselors who have signed up to be members of the Counselor Advocacy Network. Inside this edition, you’ll find an update on Medicare legislation, a report on VA priorities, and much more!
Reps. John Katko (R-NY-24) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32) have introduced legislation to increase access to counselors and other mental health professionals and address the shortage of behavioral health professionals in rural and underserved areas.
NBCC made meaningful progress on the creation of a federal occupational series for counselors and increasing employment by the Department of Veterans Affairs in a recent spending bill released by Congress.
The opioid crisis has been in the spotlight on Capitol Hill for months, and NBCC has been pressing for inclusion of Medicare legislation in the package.
The President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes eliminating SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), which provides scholarships to minority mental health and addiction professionals in counseling and other behavioral health fields.
The NBCC is partnering with other counseling organizations in urging a coordinated grassroots campaign on Medicare legislation. The organizations are working hard to increase constituent contacts with lawmakers.
At a recent congressional briefing held by the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging, Rep. John Katko (R-NY) gave an impassionate plea for attendees to support H.R. 3032 and expand access to mental health and addiction treatment for America’s seniors.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) has introduced H.R 5531, tThe Opioid Emergency Response Act. The bill contains a seven7-point plan to address the opioid crisis, including a section authorizing mental health counselors to serve as Medicare providers.
The Senate passed S. Resolution 447 last week, which recognizes March 22, 2018, as National Rehabilitation Counselors Appreciation Day.
On March 23, President Trump signed H.R. 1625, a massive spending bill that keeps the federal government open through the end of the fiscal year.
The $1.3 trillion spending package passed by Congress and signed by the President contains increased funding for counseling and other behavioral health programs.
NBCC is endorsing the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, which would offer student loan repayment to counselors and other treatment professionals.
NBCC Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Counselor Medicare Legislation.
The NBCC is working with state counseling agencies and licensing boards to fight against proposals by some state legislatures that would deregulate the counseling profession.
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