For many years, ACA and AMHCA have been working collaboratively to remove the physician referral requirements under which mental health counselors must practice for TRICARE.
For many years, the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) have been working collaboratively to remove the physician referral requirements under which mental health counselors must practice for TRICARE, the Department of Defense (DOD) managed health care program for active duty service members and their families, retirees and their families, and survivors.
ACA and AMHCA have made some progress. The conference report for the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes language instructing the Department of Defense (DOD) to contract with the Institute of Medicine or a similar organization to carry out a study of the training and licensing of mental health counselors. The report also requires DOD to issue regulations outlining training credentials that would allow mental health counselors to practice independently under TRICARE.
The House of Representatives passed the conference report for the NDAA by a vote of 370 to 49 on December 12, 2007. On December 14, 2007, the Senate followed suit by voting 90 to 3 to adopt the conference report. Unfortunately, due to an unrelated provision, President Bush used a "pocket-veto" to kill the legislation. When Congress is in session, any unsigned bills become law after seven days. However, if Congress is out of session, any bills that are not signed after seven days expire (this is referred to as a "pocket-veto"). A decades-long dispute between the Legislative and Executive branches has led some to question the President's constitutional right to use "pocket-veto" in this particular situation, and Congress may act to override the action.
Should the veto be upheld, ACA and AMHCA will have an opportunity to lobby for stronger provisions affecting the work of mental health counselors operating in the TRICARE program before the revised bill is drafted. Details: Peter Atlee. Telephone: 800/347-6647, Ext. 242 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.