On Thursday, May 11, the House of Representatives passed the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 390-39. Included in the bill, which authorizes spending for all Defense-related programs, is a provision sponsored by Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) granting independent practice authority to licensed mental health counselors practicing under TRICARE. Under current TRICARE rules, licensed mental health counselors are the only mental health professionals required to have physician referral and supervision.
The Senate has not considered their version of the defense authorization bill, which does not yet include a counselor practice authority provision. The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) are working together to find a sponsor to introduce an amendment during Senate consideration of the bill. The Senate is expected to consider their version of a defense bill following the Memorial Day recess. We will send you additional information about what grassroots actions will be necessary for passage of an amendment.