Rep. Cubin Introduces Bill to Reimburse Counselors under Medicare!

Rep. Cubin Introduces Bill to Reimburse Counselors under Medicare!

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Ask Your Representative to Cosponsor H.R. 5324 

After lobbying by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA), and hearing from counselors in Wyoming, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has introduced legislation (H.R. 5324) that would include licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists among the list of providers who can deliver services to Medicare beneficiaries, provided they are legally authorized to perform those services under their state’s licensure law.

AMHCA and ACA worked tirelessly to find a Republican member of the House of Representatives who is on one of the two key committees that has jurisdiction over the legislation since Republicans are the majority party and control the flow of legislation. Now, that we have achieved this important goal, it is even more crucial for our members to contact their U.S. Representative and request cosponsorship of the bill.  A long list of bipartisan cosponsors will help provide the support needed to include the legislation when a separate bill regarding Medicare is working its way through the legislative process.

The Senate version of the legislation is S. 784, also called the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act, sponsored by Senators Craig Thomas (R-WY) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).  Senators Thomas and Lincoln were instrumental in having the language from S. 784 included in last year’s budget reconciliation bill.  Now that we have lead sponsors on both sides of the Hill, we are optimistic that the legislation will not be removed by members of the House of Representatives during any potential conference committee.

ACTION NEEDED: Call your U.S. Representative to ask him/her to cosponsor and support H.R.5324, the Senior's Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2006, sponsored by Representative Barbara Cubin (R-WY) to reimburse counselors under Medicare.

TARGETS:  Members of the House of Representatives, especially members of the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees.  The U.S. Capitol Switchboard can be reached at (202) 225-3121.  If you don’t know the name of your Representative, visit www.house.gov and enter your zip code.  

SAMPLE MESSAGE {for Representatives}:  “As a constituent, I’m calling to ask the Representative to cosponsor and support, H.R. 5324, legislation to provide greater access for Medicare beneficiaries in need of mental health services. Rep. Cubin has introduced the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act to provide Medicare beneficiaries with greater choice among qualified providers and enhance their ability to obtain needed mental health services.” 

AMHCA and ACA will continue meeting with members of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees as well as the Senate Finance Committee to shore up support for the legislation.  For more information, contact Beth Powell, in AMHCA’s office of Public Policy and Professional Issues at (800) 326-2642, ext. 105 or via email at bpowell@amhca.org or Brian Altman, in ACA’s office of Public Policy and Legislation at (800) 347-6647 ext. 242 or via e-mail at baltman@counseling.org.

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