While Congress debates fundamental changes to Medicare that would save trillions of dollars and shift more cost to consumers, professional associations for mental health care providers are pressing ahead for expansion of provider eligibility.
Currently, only psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers are reimbursed for working with Medicare patients, but efforts have been ongoing to pass legislation that would include licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists.
Now comes the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act, introduced in the Senate in March by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). It would allow both LPCs and MFTs to be reimbursed for Medicare services.
What are the chances for this kind of legislation admid the budget cutting frenzy in Washington? The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) remains optimistic and is asking members to call their senators.
“We Are at a Critical Crossroads,” the organization said in a news release. “Yes, Congress has actively considered legislation providing Medicare reimbursement to LPCs for several years now. But Congress is now embroiled in an ongoing debate on everything connected to health care reform.
“Furthermore, Congress must pass Medicare legislation this year in order to prevent a scheduled 20% pay cut for physicians under the program from taking effect on December 31, 2011. We need mental health counselor coverage to be part of this Medicare package—and this represents a prime opportunity to achieve our long-sought goals.”
Suze Orman on social workers’ low pay: Get over it
It’s too bad social workers aren’t making more money, says CNBC financial guru Suze Orman. But they should quit complaining and learn the secrets to living with less.
“You just have to be one of those that seriously live below your means,” Orman told social workers in a phone interview with the website, www.socialworkersspeak.org. “It may mean you rent for the rest of your life. But who cares? So does all of America right now.”
In a written statement to the National Association of Social Workers, Orman added: “If you social workers have what it takes to deal with some of the most serious problems in the United States of America between families, children, elder abuse and so on you have what it takes to take care of your financial children as well - the bills, bucks and pennies that are all in your life.
“And the bottom line is this: you will never be powerful in life until you are powerful over your own money - how you think about it, how you feel about it and how you invest it.
“Do not hide behind the excuse that you don’t make enough money so therefore you’ll never have any money. You can do anything. You just have to know how.”