The House and Senate are currently considering the annual Department of Defense appropriations bill, The National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) of 2016, HR.1735/S.1736. The House version (HR.1735) passed on May 15, and the full Senate is expected to approve its version (S.1376) in early June. The House legislation includes a highly controversial provision sought by the American Counseling Association (ACA) that would greatly modify TRICARE’s Aug. 18, 2014, rule for Certified Mental Health Counselors.
House Bill Threatens CMHCS' Access to Medicare for Years to Come
AMHCA is very concerned that two aspects of the House bill—recognition of 11 separate accreditation and training standards for clinical practice, and its elimination of a uniform competency exam for the many differently trained counselors—would seriously undermine national recognition of CMHCs for many years to come. Therefore, AMCHA opposes the House language because it will undermine AMHCA’s efforts to elevate high clinical and professional standards for CMHCs.
AMHCA believes the competency standards are critically important because they ensure that each counselor applicant—regardless of their degree and which accreditation standards they were trained under—is clinically competent to practice independently with TRICARE beneficiaries. This House language is part of the House-passed bill and will ultimately be considered by the Senate in conference committee as part of its NDAA deliberations.