Reps. Rooney and McMahon Introduce CARES Act
to Allow for LMHC/LPC TRICARE Independence
Alexandria, VA – October 16, 2009 – AMHCA commends Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fl), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, and Michael McMahon (D-NY), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for today introducing legislation that would strip TRICARE of its licensed mental health counselor "supervision and referral" requirement, thus giving TRICARE beneficiaries immediate access to licensed mental health counselors.
This legislation, appropriately titled the CARES Act, "The Counselor Accessibility Reform and Expansion for Soldiers Act," would permit TRICARE beneficiaries the same direct access to licensed mental health counselors currently available to numerous beneficiaries of private insurance plans. Disturbing statistics about recurring incidents of post traumatic stress syndrome in soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan inspired Reps. Rooney and McMahon to introduce the CARES Act. Rep. Rooney says, "An important part of properly treating PTSD and other mental health problems facing our soldiers is to ensure them access to professional counselors." Rep. McMahon identifies "face to face counseling with mental health professionals" as the means to ensuring America’s men and women of the Armed Forces "adequate, efficient mental health services."
Before the genesis of the CARES Act, Congress tasked the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) to convene a panel and hold several meetings to make a recommendation to Congress as to whether to retain or strip TRICARE of its current "supervision and referral" requirement for licensed mental health counselors. The IOM panel has not yet issued a recommendation to Congress, and it is not expected to for several months. AMHCA is committed to working with Reps. Rooney and McMahon, in addition to responding to the needs of the IOM TRICARE panel, to see the elimination of TRICARE’s current "supervision and referral" requirement for licensed mental health counselors.
Contact Julie A. Clements, J.D., AMHCA Director of Legislative Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-326-2642 if you have further inquiries.