We did it! Health Care Legislation INCLUDING LCPCs billing Medicare passes US House.
NOW WE NEED TO GET IT PASSED IN THE SENATE!
Late Saturday, November 7th, the House of Representatives passed an historic health insurance reform bill—H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act”—including language establishing Medicare coverage of licensed professional counselors for the provision of medically-necessary outpatient mental health services. The Medicare coverage provision, which also applies to marriage and family therapists, is included in Section 1308 of the bill. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), H.R. 3962 would reduce the federal deficit by $109 billion over the next ten years, and would expand coverage to 96% of Americans. The legislation was passed by a vote of 220-215.
CICO/ICA/ACA/AMHCA applauds the House of Representatives for passing this legislation. We have long sought to establish Medicare coverage of counselors’ services, and has consistently supported expanding health insurance coverage. Counselors can identify their Representative at the House of Representatives website at http://www.house.gov. A listing of how members voted is available here.
The Senate is working toward a vote on health insurance legislation. Unfortunately, the legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee does not include Medicare coverage of counselors.
Counselors are encouraged to contact Sen. Durbin to remind him that the Senate approved Medicare coverage of counselors in both 2003 and 2005, and ask them to work to include the counselor coverage language as part of health care legislation this year. Medicare beneficiaries need better access to outpatient mental health services, and deserve the same choice of provider currently enjoyed by those with private health insurance. Constituent contacts are likely to make the difference between success and failure on this issue!
*****As a constituent of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, you may just be the key to getting inclusion of Medicare reimbursement into the Senate’s health care reform bill…..*******
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE-
REACH OUT TO SENATOR DICK DURBIN and ask for inclusion of S. 671 in the Senate health care reform bill.
Sen. Durbin is a sponsor of S. 671
S. 671, introduced by Senator Lincoln, did not make it into the Senate’s health care bill. It won’t be offered as a floor amendment. The one way to get into the bill is through a Manager’s Amendment. Senate Leadership, which includes Senator Durbin as Assistant Majority Leader/ Majority Whip, determines what gets offered as a Manager’s Amendment. Let Senator Durbin know how inclusion of Licensed Mental Health Counselors/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs) will improve the Medicare program for Illinois’s seniors by availing Illinois’s seniors of mental health access, in many areas that currently lack social workers and psychologists, providers currently eligible to provide “medically necessary” outpatient psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
As an Illinois constituent, you must let Senator Durbin know S. 671’s companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1693 sponsored by Rep. Gordon of Tennessee, has been included in Section 1308 of the House’s health care bill, H.R. 3962. Medicare eligibility for licensed mental health counselors MUST be included in the Senate bill.
Your emails and/or calls to Senator Durbin’s office should include the following:
“Hello, my name is __________________, and I am a resident of _______________, Illinois. I’d like to speak with Senator Durbin’s Health Legislative Assistant about a Medicare provision that expands Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mental health care, particularly in my Illinois town, and consequently, reduces Medicare costs for later inpatient mental health services and chronic physical illnesses stemming from lack of preventive outpatient mental health care. As a licensed mental health counselor/licensed professional counselor with many Medicare beneficiaries in need of my outpatient mental health services, I’d like to ask Senator Durbin to include S. 671, by use of a Manager’s Amendment, in the Senate’s health care reform legislation. This Medicare reimbursement provision for mental health counselors was scored by the Congressional Budget Office to cost very little relative to numerous other provisions in the health care reform bills: $400 million over 10 years and $200 million over 5 years. A great share of counselors in Illinois practice in areas underserved by currently eligible Medicare outpatient providers, licensed clinical social workers and licensed clinical psychologists. Inclusion of the S. 671 provision promises expanded access to highly trained minimum Master’s level mental health professionals for many Medicare beneficiaries currently unable to access much needed mental health services. S. 671’s companion bill H.R. 1693 was included in Section 1308 of the House’s health care bill passed this past Saturday. Please see that this provision makes it into the Senate bill. Thank you for your time, ___________, and for relaying my message to Senator Durbin.”
· To be able to email Senator Durbin, go to the following link, http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm, and write an email about inclusion of S. 671 in the Senate’s final health care bill.
Call Senator Durbin’s DC Office at (202)-224-2152 and ask to speak with his Health Legislative Assistant about inclusion of S. 671 in a Manager’s Amendment to the Senate health care bill.
Also, call the District Office located closest to you at the following numbers to relay this important message about including Medicare eligibility/reimbursement for Licensed Mental Health Counselors/Licensed Professional Counselors in the Senate’s health care reform bill.