August 27, 2012 – Alexandria, VA – Early this year, clinical mental health counselors (CMHCs) won recognition for independent practice within the TRICARE program. This summer, TRICARE Management released policy manual instructions to their six regional carriers detailing the certification process for CMHCs seeking independent practice status. TRICARE's regional carriers are now processing certification applications for CMHCs throughout the country.
AMHCA strongly encourages all eligible CMHCs to consider seeking independent provider status under the program during a grandfather period that will last through December 2014. Certification of CMHCs will help advance the standing of the profession at the federal level as well as enable individual practitioners to serve TRICARE beneficiaries long into the future. Once the grandfather period closes on January 1, 2015, practitioners that do not meet the more restrictive certification standards will be permanently excluded from program participation. The current grandfather period is critical: many more CMHCs can be qualified now, and, once qualified, practitioners will retain TRICARE payment eligibility indefinitely.
TRICARE Provider Enrollment Process
The TRICARE grandfather provision is very specific and not all current licensees will qualify for certification. (Read AMHCA's views on further expanding CMHC eligibility.) Providers are advised to review it before submitting their application: see AMHCA's summary and the TRICARE CMHC rules.
Interested practitioners will find their provider application on the website of their appropriate TRICARE regional carrier. The application will be used by the carrier to determine individual eligibility and award the new certification, "TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselor."
Applications must specify whether a provider seeks status as an in-network or out-of-network provider.
AMHCA encourages all eligible CMHCs to take this next step toward full professional recognition. This action will:
Ensure payment for treating TRICARE service members and their family members. The demand for counseling is increasing for active duty personnel and members of the National Guard and Reserves. This action helps support our service members.
Establish a large number of qualified CMHCs providers that are receiving federal payment and thus strengthen our case for future Medicare coverage.
Provide justification to insurers for including CMHCs on provider panels, which are more focused on accepting only Medicare eligible psychologists and clinical social workers.
This is a critical time for the mental health counseling profession. Even if you do not see TRICARE clients, we hope you will consider the importance of becoming eligible for federal payment.
Associate Executive Director/Director of Public Policy firstname.lastname@example.org