Final TRICARE Rule

NBCC announces that the Department of Defense released the final rule establishing standards for counselor participation in the TRICARE program today.

This final rule follows the previous interim final rule (IFR), which was released in December 2011 and created the initial criteria for counselor independent practice under TRICARE. The final rule modifies the IFR in response to comments and concerns expressed by the public.

NBCC has been an active proponent of independent practice rights for counselors in TRICARE for over a decade, and this rule is the culmination of that effort. The IFR granted independent practice authority to counselors, but contained a number of burdensome limitations.

NBCC believes the final rule is a significant improvement over the IFR and is pleased to see many of our recommendations were incorporated. The entirety of the rule can be read here; the highlights of the changes include the following:

  • Extension of the transition period to 2017
    • Previously, the IFR was scheduled to end December 31, 2014, but the final rule extends the transition period for two years, until January 1, 2017. Additionally, TRICARE clarified that any counselor meeting the transition criteria before January 1, 2017, could apply at any time under those standards (including after the transition period closes). Many organizations, including NBCC, have advocated for a longer transition period.  With this extension, the transition period is five years.

      The transition period educational and test requirements include:

      • Possession of a master’s degree or higher from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs and passage of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE)OR
        Possession of a master’s degree or higher in counseling from a regionally accredited institution and passage of the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
  • Indefinite continuation of the supervised counselor status
    • The IFR allowed counselors to continue to practice under physician supervision as supervised mental health counselors (SMHCs) until January 1, 2015. After that date, the SMHC status would no longer be reimbursed. The final rule removes the expiration date and extends the SMHC status indefinitely. Consequently, counselors currently practicing under supervision may continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The final rule will take effect on August 18, 2014.

 

NCCs interested in more information can review the final rule or contact the Behavioral Health Branch at 703-681-0064703-681-0064. NBCC is pleased with the positive improvements to the TRICARE standards found in the final rule, particularly those requirements broadening inclusion, extending the transition period and expanding access to counselors for TRICARE beneficiaries.

Why does MMHCA Sponsor Supervisor Training?

By James Blundo

Often I am asked, “Why does MMHCA sponsor supervisor training?” I want to take this opportunity to answer that question.

MMHCA sponsors supervisor training because we believe the role of supervisors is so important. Supervisors are the leaders of our profession in Michigan and help to shape our profession in our state. This is why it is so important that Michigan supervisors have a good understanding of our law, its history, and the unique challenges we face as Licensed Professional Counselors in Michigan. We guarantee that our MMHCA sponsored program offered by the Mentoring Institute provides this information in a way that a discounted, out-of-state program cannot.

Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer, LPC, LMFT, ACS, one of the co-leaders of our training, served for many years as the Licensure Chair for the Michigan Counseling Association and as the first Chair of the Michigan Board of Counseling. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the MMHCA Licensure Committee along with Dr. Irene Mass Ametrano, LPC, ACS, past Co-Chair of the Michigan Board of Counseling. Dr. Schaeffer and Dr. Ametrano helped write our law, were instrumental in writing the first set of Administrative Rules to implement the law, and currently work intensely with MMHCA to protect our scope and right to practice. The MMHCA-sponsored training includes their book and DVD which are not available in any other training program.

I need to share one last important reason why your support of our supervisor training program is so critical. We currently face serious challenges to our scope of practice and ability to collect third-party reimbursement which has the potential to affect every LPC in Michigan. MMHCA is working diligently on your behalf to address these challenges. Every MMHCA member who signs up for our MMHCA-sponsored training program receives a discount on the training, and your membership in MMHCA helps us fund the efforts to defend your right to practice. In addition, we are currently offering a one-time only discount that makes this program more affordable than others.

If you are currently a LLPC Supervisor, please share this information with your colleagues who aspire to become supervisors. If you are looking for a quality supervisor training program that also supports your profession and right to practice, please sign up for our MMHCA-sponsored training program offered by The Mentoring Institute. The next program is beginning right now, but it is not too late to register.  For more information, contact Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer at 269-327-6030.

Electronic Communication in Counseling

The question of the use of electronic communication in counseling practices has been on member’s minds for some time. There does not appear to be an explicit mention of this in the Michigan Rules. In ACA and AMHCA guidelines, the need to ensure that appropriate counseling practices are followed is clear. At present, this would appear to mean that Licensed Counselors be clear to any clients in their practice agreements that telephone , including Skype, and email communications are not absolutely confidential. It does not currently appear to be legal for Michigan Licensed professionals to counsel clients in states outside of Michigan unless they are also licensed in those states.

 

Article by Eric Blumberg, PhD, LPC, CAADC

MMHCA Legislative Chair

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Codes

 

As you probably know, beginning January 1, 2013 there are new AMA directives regarding Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes.  The following are the new codes for licensed professional counselors.  These new codes must be used for all billing statements.

 

Old          New          New Description

90801      90791       Diagnostic interview examination including history, mental status, disposition provided by a non-physician

90804      90832       Individual psychotherapy 30 minutes (16-37 minutes)

90806      90834       Individual psychotherapy 45 minutes (38-55 minutes)

90808      90837       Individual psychotherapy 60 minutes

 

Crisis Management

90839       Intervention for the first 30 to 74 minutes

90840       Intervention for each additional 30 minutes

 

These codes remain unchanged:

90846                       Family psychotherapy (without patient present)

90847                       Family psychotherapy (conjoint psychotherapy)

90849                       Multi-family group psychotherapy

90853                       Group psychotherapy (other than of a multiple-family group)

 

Here’s a web site you may want to access for more information.

http://www.valueoptions.com/providers/Files/pdfs/CPT_Code_Changes_Presentation_Slides.pdf

MMHCA Facebook Project

I am an LLPC involved in a project for the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA) and you! With the future of health care in flux, MMHCA wants to partner with you to assure your place as a mental health professional in the future of health care. There are two things you can do:

1. Go to the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association Facebook page and “like” it. This way you will receive instant updates on what MMHCA is doing for you and what you can do for yourself.

2. Visit www.mmhca.org   and become a member. Lobbying for our rights requires financial backing and your membership dues can work directly for you now more than ever. Most of us just want to spend our time focusing on our vocation and not politics. With the Affordable Health Care Act, Blue Cross, and Medicare decisions on the table WE NEED REPRESENTATION. Please give careful consideration to membership.

3. Please pass this on to anyone you know who is concerned about mental health issues in our state.

Thank you,

Jennifer Colberg, MAC, LLPC